Lately I’ve been thinking about the comfort, beauty, and mystery of rituals.
Comfort–the familiarity and warmth derived from the ritual. Beauty–the simple joy of doing the same thing over and over. Mystery–the way that rituals can bring us closer to God and to each other.
Some rituals I enjoy individually, they are part of what bring peace and groundedness to my own life. Other rituals are communal, done with family or a church.
I wanted to focus on the communal rituals today–the small habits, routines, and repeated actions that make a home. The things that I hope my children remember when they think back on their childhoods. The small moments that fill my week with grace.
Simple Family Rituals
Here are a few of our family rituals. I share these to help you consider your own or to give inspiration as begin to implement your own family rituals.
1.Friday Night Movie Night
Each Friday night our family makes homemade pizza and watches a movie together. It’s become a highlight of the week.
We take turns choosing the movie that we will watch. My husband and I tend to choose classic family movies like Swiss Family Robinson and Pete’s Dragon. Andrew, my oldest son, has found some good movies based on books he’s read, like The Indian in the Cupboard and White Fang. Ella likes princess movies of all sorts, so we’ve watched the new Aladdin and Anastasia among others. And, George has fun with adventure and animal movies like The Land Before Time and The Lorax.
It’s such a simple thing and takes very little planning. Because I know that our Friday meal will always be pizza, it actually decreases my time spent planning. But, it causes us to spend time together, to appreciate each other’s differences, and to cuddle close for a few moments each week.
2. Saturday Morning Walk
This year we’ve begun a new ritual: the Saturday morning walk. This is another weekly ritual that takes no money and little planning.
We have a lovely pond near our house, a beautiful arboretum just a few blocks away, and a gorgeous walking trail minutes from our house. We generally rotate between these options that are close to home.
A few times we have driven farther to do an actual hike and brought along a picnic lunch. But, generally we don’t spend longer than an hour on this ritual. However, it gets us outdoors, active, and starts the weekend off together. That’s a win!
3. Sunday Morning Church
As Orthodox Christians, we view our time in church as sacred–a time outside of time. This sacred part of our week brings us into the presence of God and allows us to participate in the mystery of the Eucharist.
By consistently going to church each Sunday, we are helping our children realize that this is a central part, the central part, of our identity as a family.
4. Family Read Alouds
Most evenings during the school week, we read aloud together for 20ish minutes after dinner. My husband or I choose a book (one that will take us a month or more to read), we gather in the living room, and I read aloud.
Rituals can Change
I know that our rituals will change as our children grow older, have more activities outside the home, and eventually leave us altogether. But right now (at ages 10, 7, and 6), these work for us.
I pray that I will be flexible enough to enjoy the changing seasons of life with my children; creative enough to implement new rituals appropriate for the time; and joyful enough to embrace the right now.
What rituals does your family have?
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