Sunday Chronicles: Holiday Rituals

A woman in grey plaid pjs and a Santa shirt with Santa slippers on

Tis the time of year for many, many things, like kindness and joy- and rituals. I’ve been thinking a lot about rituals lately (defined as usually religious series of acts repeated with meaning attached), because with all of the things that are a part of this time of year come the rituals, or traditions- from your religious ceremonies to how and when you decorate your tree or house.

I’ve written about some of my thoughts on holiday traditions here, here, here, here, here.

It’s not that my traditions are changing- I’m still wearing plaid, wishing for snow, and excited to eat my momma’s beef stroganoff this Christmas Eve- but I’ve been thinking more about the rituals behind these traditions and the meaning they bring to what we (always) do. I took a class a few years ago based upon the premise that all human relationships were built on ritual (a series of repeated action) and spontaneous actions – together they build foundation, fun, and family. When applied to our holiday traditions, I can’t help but appreciate the ritual- the things we do passed down from generation to generation, and the ways we adjust them (aka being spontaneous). If you google the importance of rituals, you’ll get a ton of results that explain everything from how rituals tie us to our past and move us forward, how rituals heal, and how rituals build us up.

When you think about it, the holiday season comes at the ending of a year and is the beginning of another. Rituals bring us joy, temper our sorrow, and move us from one place to the next. And because we can tweak our rituals (there are things that we still do the exact same way we did when I was 3, and things we’ve changed), I like think to think that our rituals are living. And of course they’re magic.

So. If we can admit that rituals matter and move us, how do we honor them? How do we take these rituals that ground us and yet allow them to move us forward? If you’re like me, there are rituals you don’t want to change- I love family Christmas PJs and watching Miracle on 34th Street, and all the goodies! On the other hand, I love how my family holidays have grown up with my sister and I (we don’t have kids). I long to hold on and I want to leave room for change. Maybe that’s the magic of the ritual. It lets you do both.

This year we aren’t making big changes. We’re doing what we have done, and honoring what our rituals have grown into. When I know think about rituals, I think about both the past and the future- and I’m excited about both. This season is a season of rituals and traditions, past and future. May we find comfort and ways to honor all. I would love to hear your thoughts about rituals, your family traditions and how you’re feeling going into the season.

Wishing us all a week of comfort and amazing shoes! XO RA