Every Friday night is homemade pizza and movie night at our house. And no matter how hungry our six-year-old is, and how long we take to get plates, pour a glass of wine and settle down, he waits until we’ve all taken our seats and Dad has pressed Play, before taking his first bite of pizza. And every week, this makes me smile.
It means we’ve raised him with a sense of occasion. A respect for ritual. In our unchurch-going house, ritual seems to revolve around food and drink. But we’re not completely hedonistic. We also have Happy Jar. This is a gratitude ritual at night when we each talk about our favourite part of the day. I write it down and put it in the jar. It’s a way of taking stock of the day. And we each get a square of chocolate afterwards.
I’m lucky because somehow in the course of my childhood with a French mother and a Mauritian father, I absorbed the same sense of occasion. In our family the first sip of a drink taken together was marked by the clinking of glasses and a chorus of “Tchin, tchin” as we looked into each other’s eyes. We still do this. This eye contact says “I’m here. You’re here. We’re alive. Let’s celebrate.”
At mealtimes, everyone sits and waits until all at the table are served. There’s a pause and then the host says, “Bon appetit”. We all look round the table and echo the words. Then we tuck in. This sense of occasion is a way of honouring what, to jaded eyes, could seem like a run of the mill moment, one of dozens.
Sprinkling your day with moments where you pause, take a breath, recognize for a minute that you are here, now…can make ordinary things sacred. It can lift your day from mundane to blessed. And for me, that’s the measure of a life well-lived: a string of moments, like a necklace of beautifully polished pearls, that have been blessed with our awareness.