Rituals,Traditions and Customs: Creating Meaning

After 26 years together (we met April 15, 1988 and fell for each other instantly), I've grown to embrace Rick's refusal to accept traditions just because they exist or to celebrate holidays because they are on a calendar. It took some time to get used to, since my mom loves holidays and traditions and I grew up under that mindset, but over time I've gotten to like what's replaced it: our own traditions and rituals.

We don't do anything about the New Year, because, well, we're usually asleep or Rick's working and for me, the year always starts at the end of August. :)

Valentine's Day...well, I've gotten an occasional acknowledgement, but for the most part, no mention is made of the day, and to be honest, I'll take no Valentine's Day in exchange for the husband who, knowing I was out with our daughters walking in 90 degree heat, took the time to drive by the walking path and give me a glass of ice water, and then when my left ankle locked up, came back and gave us a ride back to my car. That is true love.

Easter is another day that passes by without any real acknowledgement--for several years we ate Easter dinner at my parents and the kids got baskets, but Easter and what it involves is difficult for my kids--they hate injustice and no matter how many times the whole Easter story is told, they are seriously pissed that Jesus and others were crucified. Not even the resurrection overcomes that. Plus, they are seriously literal minded and highly skeptical. The less said on the matter, the better. Their father is a pretty solid atheist and their mother is an agnostic who believes in following Christ's teachings and ignoring the rest. So this weekend passes without any celebration or tradition. Seems the smartest way to go for us, especially when their reaction to injustice is hours and hours of heartwrenching sobs.

Memorial Day, Rick's and my birthdays, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving...not a huge deal for us, at least not the way many people celebrate them. The kids' birthdays are, of course, a big deal.

Veteran's Day is probably the only holiday that means a lot to Rick and me, and to the kids. But celebrating it doesn't quite fit. We acknowledge it. We honor our service members. It matters. With family members who have served, friends who have served, and with Rick's service and my own short service, we hold this day sacred.

Christmas is low key for us. No tree...now that the kids are bigger, we do gifts before Christmas and choose to watch movies together.

This doesn't mean we are without rituals and traditions and customs. It just means we created our own and refine them over time.

We eat supper together every day. Most days we eat lunch together. Many mornings we eat breakfast together. Being together for meals and sharing that time with each other is important to me and Rick.

We all love the same shows, the same books, the same games, the same toys. We share our time together, choosing to be with each other most of our time at home.

The girls and I cuddle and talk for hours.
Bob can talk my ear off on his story he's writing, the games he's playing, the books he's reading. And, given that it took many years before he could do that, I listen and remind myself what a blessing it is, even if it gets repetitive at times. He's 24 and he still wants to talk to me. I'll embrace that.
Rick and the kids play games together for hours.
Rick takes the kids to the toy store every Saturday, takes them to a toy club meeting once a month. He plays with them, and they love to quote Big Bang lines to each other (and to me).
We decorate our life-size skeleton throughout the year with trinkets that amuse us.
And so much more.

We have, I know, our own lexicon that might be confusing to outsiders, but a single word can resonate with deep meaning for all of us.

When you live with literal minded, logical people who want a real reason for doing something, maybe the culture's traditions get thrown by the wayside, but what we have is rich, intense, joyful and full of meaning to us.

And that's exactly the way it should be.

May your traditions and rituals be as rewarding to you and yours as you celebrate this Easter weekend, from a spiritual, religious, or secular perspective.


kathleen said...

Yes! You are a family a the true sense of the word...You all participate together in the things that MEAN something to all of you..There is no one special day..you find meaning and joy in all of the days...lovely and well said. :))

usethebrains godgiveyou said...

I always liked what Ghandi said: " I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians." It's kind of easy to see, sometimes, why he said that.

Mostly, holidays for us are a reason to pig out. And for mass quantities of chocolate in the house.