Bojey celebrated her half-birthday last week, and we engaged in a family tradition we’ve held for a few years now. After some intense internal debate, she settled on a dinner of puff pancake and dinner sausage (not to be confused with breakfast sausage), and a dessert of heart-shaped vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. I delivered, albeit with a bit of a dry cake (note to self…if you want the kids to be moderate with the dessert, make a mediocre one—works like a charm.)
One of my great goals for our family is to have a system of rituals and celebrations that we hold sacred and that mark the many milestones of our lives. Sometimes these are culturally-established and require little effort to take part in—Christmas trees, heart-shaped decorations for Valentine’s Day. But I also want us to have our own rituals, things that are built in to the private culture and language of our family.
Sometimes these just happen, the way they did in our own childhoods. One summer while on vacation you eat ice cream for dinner the last night; you reminisce the following year and decide to do it again, and suddenly a tradition is organically created. We have these, and as the girls grow, I’m sure we will have more.
It is also the case, however, that I enjoy intentionally creating rituals. They aren’t always a hit, and to be honest, I sometimes wonder if it can be a bit contrived. I never know how things are going to go over, but I’ve had more successes than failures, so that’s a plus.
Each night during dinner in the month of November, the chicks and I shared something for which we were thankful. The first week saw Ninna refusing to participate, clearly self-conscious about the act. Bojey’s response each night began with her looking around the room, resting her eyes on something, and then saying “I’m thankful for that wall over there.” A few times I really had to hold in the laughter, but I managed.
I persisted with this ritual at every dinner we shared, whether or not they participated, and after about a week, things improved. Ninna joined in, and Bojey’s eyes started to rest on things she might actually, in theory, be thankful for—the toys, the art supplies—all material possessions, but she’s three. I’ll take what I can get.
When December rolled around and we became busy with all of the holiday craziness, I let the dinnertime thankfulness ritual fall to the wayside for several days until one dinner, during which Bojey said “mama, let’s do that thing we do!” Clueless about what she was talking about, I started throwing out questions…”you mean clean up really fast after dinner while we listen to a song? Put ice cubes in the bathtub?"
“No mama, the thing where we say the thankfulness thing.”
So, due in large part to Bojey, we’re still doing “the thankfulness thing.” A few nights ago, she insisted on going first, and in my usual way, I asked “OK, what are you thankful for tonight?”
Her response? “I’m thankful it was my half birthday yesterday.”
Ah, sweet mama moments, when it all seems to come together.