Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rituals: The Good, the Not So Good and the Ugly

I am getting ready for a little trip to Victoria, B.C.  It's one of my favorite places. 

In thinking about our trip, I am looking forward to my little rituals that I associate with Victoria.  I go to Murchies to buy enough tea to get me by until I go to Victoria again (I know I can buy it online but it's more fun to choose my tea in person and have a little nosh while I'm at it), then next door to Munro's Books to pick up a memoir by a British actor or some other book that was only published in the UK. 

Visiting Munro's is also special because it's one of those independent bookstores you don't see anymore and also a lovely place to poke around.  It is even listed as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. Then on day 2, we walk to the Cook Street Starbucks.  It's the best Starbucks in the world.  I'm not sure why...is it the walk there through the Victoria neighborhood away from the tourists? The cozy interior filled with locals? I don't know but we always take that walk and it's always lovely, peaceful and comforting.  Then at night we walk around the Inner Harbor to see Parliament lit up at night.

It never varies. That is our ritual.

Today I am at home and my ritual many days a week is this:  I have my tea while watching "The View."  Then I head to the gym (yuck, but a necessary evil ).  After that horror, I stop at Starbucks for a Skinny Latte, then go to the library to pick up books I have requested and then I take the scenic way home. 


When my kids were growing up, the morning ritual included their coming into my bedroom to kiss me goodbye as they headed to school

Yes, you heard me.  My kids had to be at school at zero dark thirty and like I always say, I am not a morning person. Let me just say that my kids learned how to fix their own breakfasts at an early age.  Anyway, both my son and daughter would always kiss me goodbye and they did that until they left home for college.

And then there is the anniversary ritual. 

I think I read an article that said if you wanted your husband to remember your anniversary, take turns being responsible for the celebration.  So that's what we decided to do.  Hubby is responsible for the even years and I am responsible for the uneven years.  Anniversary celebrations have run the gamut from trips to Europe to a road trip to British Columbia wine country to an overnight at a very posh hotel. 


But big or small, the occasion is celebrated and Hubby has never forgotten an anniversary, just as that article promised.

A ritual is defined in part as "being part of an established routine."  But I would give it more significance than that.

Rituals are comforting. 
There is comfort in order and things happening as they are supposed to.  I go to the gym with the comfort that I will be rewarded with a Skinny Vanilla Latte at Starbucks followed by my trip to the library (always a favorite destination) to pick up a book or DVD I have been anxiously looking forward to. 

Then I take the scenic way home. All very orderly, fun and comforting.  You get a sense that all is right with the world.

But there are also those rituals that aren't exactly comforting, but rather rituals that need to be performed if our lives are going to function well.

For example: 

  • Charging your cell phone (as soon as you get home so you aren't one of those people who says, "Oops, my phone is dying..." and you know who you are) and being sure to take your charger with you when you travel so you don't have to borrow the one from the person who DID remember (and you know who you are!)
  • Going through the TV Guide and recording must see programs on the TIVO for the upcoming week so you will have wonderful and interesting content to choose from when the time comes to plop down in front of the TV (for TV Addicts only - and you know who you are too!
  • Getting up in the morning, putting in the contacts, making the bed, setting my hair (only if I'm going out), brushing my teeth, taking a shower (if I'm going out, otherwise, who cares?).  I make this all more palatable by having the TV on something like "Inside Edition" or something I can't really justify sitting and watching, but which works fine while going through the morning ritual
  • Making dinner, eating at a specified time, cleaning up
  • Plopping down in front of the TV 

I also have a ritual before going on a trip or if I plan to be away from the house for several hours.  I have to check and recheck that the iron is not plugged in, even though I know I have an iron that shuts itself off and usually isn't even set up.  I do this and try to be present when I do it so I am sure I have done it so that when we are 50 miles down the road and I don't sit up straight and yell, "I LEFT THE IRON ON!"  Back we go to start the trip over again.  We don't want that.  Hubby would not be happy.

So those are the "not so good" rituals.

They aren't exactly fun or pleasing and in fact, they are often a pain in the butt, but there still is some comfort in knowing you will have a charged cell phone (if certain people should try to call you which they usually don't - and you know who you are!) or that your body odor won't be offensive (if you are going out.  Otherwise, who cares?)

But then there are those rituals that we have gotten ourselves into that are not so comforting or rewarding, and we are not even sure how they got started.

These are the ugly ones. 

These are the rituals that are not comforting or pleasing.

One particularly egregious one for me is one that for the life of me I can't remember how it started but it has gotten truly out of hand. 

Our pack of dogs require a treat when I come down the stairs in the morning, when I arrive home from anywhere, and sometimes just when I enter the room they are in. 

Now this might seem to you something that should easily be rectified, but let me tell you. When I make an appearance, if I don't hand over the treats, there is hell to pay!  The cacophony of barking is not to be believed and it does not end until the treat has been handed over.

(And this was a quiet day, probably because they knew they were being filmed)

If I try to avoid it, the little one - he's the worst - will chirp and bop and hop and whine until he gets the treat.  It's like a child constantly yanking on your sleeve whining, "Pleeez, can I?  Huh? Huh? Pleez? 

You can't exactly smack him. Well, I could but I don't.

So I am locked in this ritual of horror that confines me to my bed longer than I need to, because I can't bear the noise when I start to come down the stairs.


And when I finally do, there they stand waiting expectantly, barking all of the while, until I do their bidding.

It's almost like they are devil dogs.  I have nightmares about what might happen if I tried to get away with not giving them treats.

For some reason, Hubby is immune to this.  Lucky him. 

Hubby, however, has the morning ritual of putting up the baby gate at the foot of the stairs so the dogs can't get to me.  If he didn't, they would be sitting outside the bedroom door scratching and whispering, "Where's our treat?"

So rituals can be comforting and they can sometimes be a burden, but rituals are important because whether they are good, not so good, or ugly, it's one small part of life where, in a chaotic world, we know what's going to happen.

And that's good.

So revel in your rituals!

What are your good,
not so good or ugly rituals?

Thanks for Reading! 

See you Friday 

for my review of the new movie
The Week in Reviews,

 as well as my progress on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."


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