A chilly wind blew away the last of the golden Autumn sunshine this week and it’s well and truly Winter now. Being a Singapore girl, I relish the change of seasons. It’s still subliminally exotic to me after a lifetime of monotonous 30 degree C tropical humidity. My first proper overseas trip was to Perth when I was 9 and as the airport doors opened and blasted us with freakishly cold air, my brother and I screamed and ran about wild-eyed with joy. I don’t even think it was winter! What wusses we were.
Where was I? Oh yes, it’s Winter – the time of the year when we turn our attention inwards to heal, replenish and prepare for another cycle of growth.
Winter means that it’s time to fill the fire baskets with kindling and wood. To collect the last pine cones from the forest to use as fire starters. Bring out the fur lined Sorel boots. Swap the jasmine candles in the living room for the wood and incense ones that smell like an ancient church in Europe. Worm the sheep and trim the alpacas hooves. Rake, mulch and prune in the garden. And the list goes on.
While I was doing these things, it occurred to me that I love the rituals and rhythms our family has built over the last few years on the farm.
Our gratitude ritual at dinner. Taking turns talking about our “high-lights and low-lights” of the day. Foraging for pine mushrooms in our secret forest spots. Filling jars with homemade spicy kimchi, so full of good probiotics. Taco night (though the kids are now campaigning for Chinese DIY Hot Pot night now).
I even cherish the silly little things that have become stone-set family tradition like yelling “Not McDonalds AGAIN!” whenever we pass by any branch of the Golden Arches (a ritual which originated from a trip to the Grampians when Daddy took the wrong turn on the highway and got lost which resulted in us doing many many circles around McDonalds)
And Dylan and Finn’s favourite – when they get cranky on long car trips, we bust out a round of “Dada’s Underpants” – a game which involves answering all questions directed at you with the response “Dada’s Underpants”. Any smiling or laughing gets you instantly disqualified. E.g. “What’s your favourite breakfast in the morning Dylan?” “Dada’s Underpants!”. Dylan is such a zen master at this game that she didn’t break form at a pit stop and when a Bunnings employee asked her how she was, she replied “Dada’s Underpants” with a polite nod.
Rituals, routines, rhythms are all part of the fabric of building a family. They are the things that make our kids feel safe and also part of something bigger than themselves. We quarrel less and feel more like a team when we built a common language. With any luck they will be passing some of these down to their own children in time to come and I will be hearing Dada’s Underpants for decades to come.
What are your family rituals? I’d love to know. Wishing you a peaceful and healing winter.