This is the month to celebrate!! : Embrace your rituals.
Rituals have the capacity to create and express meaning, both on the familial and the individual level .Whether we are telling the mouse story for our kids, celebrating our eighteen year old’s driver’s licence, celebrating 25 years of marriage, gathering round a table for special dinners, these rituals contribute to the shaping of relationships, meaning and identity both for the family and the various individuals within the family.
But rituals can be mighty and dangerous, according to Anderson (2001). Rituals can bring to light truths we would rather ignore, or expose contradictions in our relationships that we would rather not admit. It is our hope that gatherings at Christmas, birthdays, etcetera will be enjoyable moments that bring the family closer together. Often, however, these gatherings are uncomfortable situations in which the pretence of civility between certain family members is exposed in the required intimacy of the holiday dinner or gift exchange. Rituals often require such an unusual level of intimacy and physical proximity that in the process, they unmask explosive feelings or long-simmering grudges.
Think about this. Are your family gatherings enjoyable moments or uncomfortable situations, why? How can you change these uncomfortable situations into enjoyable moments?
Rituals we would rather avoid!
Many individual, family and community stories sadly goes without rituals, leaving home, divorce, adoption, stillbirth, suicide, withdrawing life support, loss of job, income, celebration days, etcetera? The importance of rituals even in a “sad” context, is that they serve to acknowledge significant periods of transition, growth, or loss, as hard as it sometimes may seem. The human need for narrative and ritual is so important for the world to be a more habitable and hospitable place and narrative and rituals are essential media through which human beings create these environments conducive to their psychological, social and spiritual survival and development. The aim of grieving, for example, is to accept the reality of loss in order to make a memory of the lost person that can be cherished.
Think of all the rituals in your life, individual, within your family, friends, community and your family of origin? Were they mighty, dangerous? What purpose did they serve? Did they create a feeling of closeness, community, or a feeling of discomfort, too close?