By Caitlin Kelly
I’m writing this post with two different streams of music coming into our apartment.
In the living room, our new favorite station, TSFJazz, which we discovered during a taxi ride into Paris on our last trip there, in December 2014.
It’s terrific! We listen to it now as a default choice and I love hearing French all day (I speak it) as well their broad array of choices.
On Saturday mornings, I listen to a reggae show on WKCR, the radio station of Columbia University, learning new-to-me phrases like “large up” (to praise or remember.) On a cold, gray winter’s morning, what better way to start the weekend?
I love rituals and routines, for the rhythm they add to my life.
In a world where things change so often and so quickly, I increasingly appreciate unmoving touchstones.
From age 8 to 16, I attended boarding school and summer camp, each with decades-old routines and rituals, some of which I loved, (we sang en masse after every meal at camp), and some of which I hated, (we had to be back at boarding school by 6pm Sunday evenings to listen to yet another missionary talk about their good deeds overseas.)
What I did enjoy about that ritual was the closing song of every Sunday evening, the lovely hymn, Abide With Me,…fast falls the eventide, the darkness deepens, Lord with me abide…
I can still remember the timing of the school’s bells: 6:55 wake-up; 7:10 out for a walk around the block; 7:25 head to the dining hall for breakfast. Each afternoon someone would bring back to our boarders’ house a huge green basket filled with cookies for our afternoon snack.
For special occasions, like graduation, a bagpiper arrived in full regalia, another ritual I cherished.
Each one of these shaped our days, weeks and months, adding form and familiarity to the inevitable craziness and changes of growing up.
I like how, as an adult, we can create our own rituals and routines, for ourselves and our children. It’s comforting to have things we know we can look forward to, like the Saturday morning pancakes my husband makes.
A few of ours:
We drink our morning coffee from a thermos, a habit of my parents when I was growing up, which seemed eminently sensible for people who like consuming a lot of caffeine over many hours.
I still plan ahead using a red leather Filofax, a beautiful and sensual way to store the information I need to stay organized.
I love cutting recipes out of magazines and newspapers, sticking them with a glue stick onto a piece of paper I three-hole-punch and put into a binder. Of course, I could do it all on-line and clear my home of all those cookbooks and stained bits of yellowing paper.
But I won’t.
After every game played with my co-ed pick-up softball team, now into our 15th season, we always head to the same local pub. We know the menu off by heart and have eaten everything on it a bazillion times. But it’s where we go.
We eat dinner at home by candlelight, and an overhead light dimmed low. I love the gentle mood that candles create.
Every afternoon at home, I get in touch with my British/Canadian/Irish roots and put on the kettle to make a fresh pot of hot tea. No sad little bag in a cup! I have a selection of herbal, Constant Comment, Earl Grey and fruit-flavored teas. Such a soothing, comforting way to take a break, relax and re-hydrate.
I tend to avoid mentioning religion here, but I also love the rituals of the Episcopal church services I occasionally attend: the liturgy, Nicene creed, the collect, my favorite hymns. In an ever-shifting world, there’s something grounding and, yes, deeply comforting to know what we will say and do collectively.
Every weekend, we dive into three newspapers (yes, in print), the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. Our favorite, by far, is the FT and its magazine supplement entitled (yup) How to Spend It, filled with ads for custom-made yachts and editorial images of $100,000 jewels, an amusing peek into 1%-world. The paper, though, is filled with terrific writing on books, travel, food, gardening.
I’m reluctant to fully unpack and put away our suitcases after a great trip — until we’ve planned our next one.
For Jose, it’s an hour of quiet time every morning, listening to music, reading or just thinking, before I wake up. Plus his cup of hazelnut coffee.
What are some of your favorite rituals and routines?