If rituals provide us solace by allowing us a tiny bit of control in a world that is essentially mysterious and uncontrollable, then what happens when our rituals disintegrate?
I’m facing the fast approach of two long-held family rituals – Thanksgiving and Christmas. With both parents now dead, I’m not sure how to face these holidays. My family celebrated in my childhood home until about eight years ago, when the tradition moved to my current home. Each year, the foundation of these rituals crumbled a little bit – first with my father’s passing and then as my mother’s illness stole her mind. Last year’s attempt was feeble and now, with her death, these traditions seem hollow – out of habit rather than heart.
For this Thanksgiving, my inclination is to run away. There’s a yoga retreat (retreat – the perfect word) a few hour’s drive from my home. Here, I can practice my yoga, soak in a hot tub overlooking the ocean, graze on healthy food prepared by someone else – and hide from the reality of my world.
Yes, I realize this is escapism, but what are my options? I can host Thanksgiving again, hoping that a least a part of my family shows up. I can volunteer at a soup kitchen, as other holiday orphans do. Frankly, the thought of scooping congealed over-salted gravy on cardboard turkey and flavorless stuffing doesn’t warm me – even if it is for a good cause (yes, I realize I need to work on my altruistic and compassionate tendencies…knowing you have a problem is the first step, right?) The other option is staying home alone or tagging along at a friend’s dinner – pathetic options even to my own ears.
Yes, I think I’ll run away this year.