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May 31, 2015


I was going to say that we don't have any family rituals as such. But perhaps...

The closest we have to a ritual is on July 4th. We have a friend who is a licensed pyrotechic. We are among those who go out on Independence Day to set up and work her show (and prove that we are still "smart enough to pound sand" -- that being necessary to secure the mortars for firing). My wife and I are the ones who bring along the meal that the crew shares between set-up and the actual show.

Does that count as a ritual?

Just a couple:

- The first syllables out of one's mouth on the first day of every month are supposed to be "Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit." On New Year's Day, right after midnight, we repeat this mantra 13 times (12 for the months, 1 for good luck)

- On Christmas Day, often in the evening, we read aloud Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales

Christmas Eve, I always read A Childs Christmas in Wales aloud to my wife.

When we were sharing a house with my mother in law & sister in law, my job for christmas day was to go to a 2nd hand book store and pick up 6 or 8 books for each of us, so we could have a pile beside our chairs/hammocks for reading over christmas dinner & the subsequent afternoon (this struck me as a great deal more pleasant than being dragooned into helping in the kitchen).

For the past 6 years, at the top of everyone's stocking on Christmas morning I've put an absurdly ugly Christmas novelty t-shirt. The t-shirt must be put on and a photo taken before moving on to any other gifts.

My sister and I used to, every Christmas/New Years, take out a book called Wired - Reality Check. Published in 1996, it was Wired magazine's predictions of the future stretching all the way to the 2200s. It's a coffee table book, really, with a short description of the advance in question (e.g. "1/4 of all US foods to be grown hyrdoponically by 2020"). Every year we'd read through and tick off any of the things that had actually happened and note down the year.

We lost the book when I moved out of my parents' house and it was only last year that I found it again.

When the kids were little, I went into the boys' bedroom to read to them at night (the girls opted out, for whatever reason), and then kiss them good night. Once we had a sleepover, and I kissed the one boy, and then I kissed the other boy, and then I shook the visitor's hand.

On Christmas Eve, we always convened a family meeting in our conventional form (candle, recitation of a family-affirming homily) and closed it with the reading of "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" (yes, I know, not as classy as "A Child's Christmas in Wales").

Now that the kids are grown, my wife and I have a great many "couple" rituals, including my rubbing her feet every evening, watching half of a video with supper, going to the farmers' market on Saturday and buying a boxed lunch from a stall called "The Ploughman's Lunch", and "having a Thursday" (sitting on the porch with coffee or a float, reading the local independent weekly on the day it comes out, or when we get around to it).

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