Why Little Rituals Are Big

by Patrick on February 23, 2010

Illustration of PatrickI was watching Oprah and the episode was focused on longevity. Apparently, the key to a long life was simple. Ritual.

The people who lived the longest practiced the same behaviors daily.

Their lives, no matter how chaotic, were rooted in a handful of traditions. They ran every day. They had a glass of wine at 5 pm with their closest friends. They took a 2 mile run. They prayed each night.

The funny thing was, they weren’t grouchy old men or complaining spinsters. Everyone of them was a joyful human being who experienced life’s fullness like a cigarette smoker outside after a trans-atlantic flight.

They sucked every bit out of every breath.

There’s nothing more beautiful you can do for your child than give their life routines and rituals.

Because when you’ve reached old age, and they start raising their own children, those are the parts of your life that will make up your must cherished memories.

What rituals did your family have that you still take part in today? Or that you don’t take part in, but remember with love? What rituals have you started with your family?

Every Easter my mother would spend an extra 10 minutes at the stove making pancackes shaped like rabbits. She’d slap the perfectly formed batter onto a plate, and my father would patiently place two blueberries for eyes, a raspberry nose and a bacon mouth.

My brother and I would wait with the same anticipation we had standing in line at Splash Mountain.

Because we knew something special was about to happen. Something unforgettable.

They were really great pancakes.


Sarah Tieck March 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm

I love the simplicity of this! Thanks for reminding me that rituals can be as special as those out-of-the-ordinary things — pancakes as magical as a trip to splash mountain! Yay!!
.-= Sarah Tieck´s last blog ..Where would your writing be … =-.

Melissa March 22, 2010 at 6:18 am

Now it’s even more clear why it was so important to you to make sure we had rituals when we shared a classroom! Our read-alouds after lunch (Sister’s Grimm!), author’s chair, even going back to projects that meant so much to students every year (egg city comes to mind). It made the kids happy, us happy, and made us feel more like a family!

Melissa March 30, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I was also thinking about how this related to my family, Patrick, and I remembered a ritual that happened every year before Christmas. Gram and Gramps would pull up in their silver bullet (trailer) to spend about a month with us.

For what felt like three days, our kitchen was turned in to a cookie making factory! We made chocolate chip, peanut butter, candy cane cookies that we would wrap around, red and white. We made kolaczki’s and chocolate dipped pretzels, white chocolate dipped pretzels, combo pretzels.

And gram’s secret recipe that sounds gross, but was actually pretty delish: spread peanut butter between two ritz crackers, and dip THOSE in chocolate, too. They were a hit (I know. Shocking.).

But the absolute BEST was my great Grandma’s Chocolate Recipe From Childhood. My ma had it written down on an old index card that had yellowed and had chocolate splotches on it from years of use. She had watched her grandma make it, and written down every step.

It’s the only thing my brother ever wants for Christmas!