I have just spent the last hour pressing silver sugar balls into gingerbread dough as my team of gingerbread men are formed. Baking is a favourite ritual of mine at Christmas and I love having the house filled with the aroma of fresh baking and spices that just scream Christmas. Rituals are an important part of the festive season for many people and can take the form of the simplest of tasks performed alone, to elaborate festivities involving many.
Last Christmas Eve I attended midnight mass. I hadn’t been to mass in over three decades, but last year something just told me to go. When I was a young girl I would attend midnight mass each Christmas Eve with my father. When he died so did the tradition, our ritual of the lead up to Christmas day. And so, it was with some trepidation that I followed the inner calling to attend mass last year. I was amazed by how much of the ceremony I remembered. The prayers and words of the Christmas hymns came easily and it really was quite beautiful. Hymns were sung around the nativity scene, candles flickered and the sweet heady scent of incense filled the air. I felt as if my father had asked me to attend on that evening. Igniting this treasured memory of a simple shared ritual was his gift to me. My trusting and acting on Divine guidance was my gift to him. I was left with a beautiful sense of peace for having trusted in myself, for believing that he was guiding me there, and for remembering such a beautiful ritual that we had once shared.
Rituals have been around since the dawn of time and are an important part of society. Rituals have positive impacts on those involved and can bring people together. It is never too late to start your own Christmas rituals. Perhaps you already have some but have never actually thought of your actions or words as being a ritual. Perhaps your circumstances have changed this year and you find that your own rituals must change or grow to include others. They may even take on a deeper significance due to personal loss. Like me, you may even have a calling to revisit or re-enact a long-lost ritual, previously shared with a loved one gone before and brought to the forefront of your mind at this time as a message of deep love.
Whatever rituals you find yourself performing this Christmas, cherish them. Cherish the memories, cherish the people, cherish yourself. Seal these precious memories in your mind and heart before the children grow up, or a loved one departs this earth. Enjoy every simple act, every simple word and have a very blessed Christmas.