Thursday, April 1, 2010

Family Rituals ...

Happy Easter, everyone! (Or Passover Greetings or Happy Spring, if you don't celebrate Easter). I've taken a break from blogging for the past couple of weeks hoping that the tendonitis in my wrist would settle down, which it seems to have done, and I'm glad to be back.

I'm on my way to Vancouver Island for Easter weekend and am excited about connecting with people I love, preparing and eating a delicious Easter dinner and spending lots of time relaxing, reading, chatting and learning to play "Set". (My goddaughter's goal for the weekend).

We have a number of special traditions surrounding each of the major holidays of the year and look forward to sharing these rituals when we're together. Special foods and table decorations. Gifts. Songs. Long walks. Worship services. Visits with particular friends. Volunteering. And while each of these rituals adds enormously to our enjoyment of the holidays, that is not their only importance.

In the 1980's, research was done regarding factors that lead to resilience in families under extreme stress and one of the major factors was a family's ability to maintain it's rituals and traditions. This doesn't mean that we must continue to do everything in exactly the same way, but it does mean that it will help if we can hold on to some aspects of the most important traditions. There is a sense of grounding, support, hope and expectancy that can come when we continue with the traditions that have provided identity and continuity in our families over time.

My husband understood the importance of maintaining the pattern of our rituals as much as possible, so much so that toward the end of his life he would do nothing but rest for several days before a holiday so that he could accumulate the energy to join us at the table for dinner - first on two feet, then with a cane and, finally, by wheelchair. Now, long after his death, the children still mention how grateful they are that he was able to celebrate with us right until the end of his life.

What about you? What Easter, Passover or Spring rituals contribute to your family's resiliency? If life has changed, are there ways to adapt your rituals to fit your current situation so that they don't go by the wayside?

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