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Every Friday night is the same around here: I’m hungry, the internet has me down, and I demand an early dinner.

For years, the husband and I earmarked Friday as date night. We grabbed a geriatric meal at the local Mexican place before seeing a movie. And, because my life unfolds online, I would bring the world with me and tweet about my margaritas and guacamole.

It was a fun phase of our lives. Having “geriatric Mexican” made me feel like I was having a moment with my husband and my readers.

But then our favorite Mexican joint shut down. We shopped our business around but couldn’t find a place that made us as happy. Also, movies started to suck. We’re in peak TV, right now, and all the good stuff is happening at home. I have no interest in seeing Logan or any other depressing movie out there.

So, our new ritual is to have no idea what we’re doing on Friday night. Maybe we’ll do Mexican, but sometimes we get Himalayan or Thai. And we don’t always see a movie because our DVR is full of good shows, plus we have Amazon Prime and Netflix. We watched Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and we both liked it, which is unusual.

I’m a big fan of rituals when they serve me. Finding a routine in my life hasn’t been routine at all — it’s been liberating to know that good stuff is on my calendar. We visit the same places in North Carolina to see farms and goats and even lavender fields. I feed the cats at the same time each day and have standing names for those rituals — noshes, boo boo kitty crunchies, and poo poo party (don’t ask). And during the summer months, I try to drive to the beach on a weekly basis.

But rituals can get stale. When the calendar serves itself instead of serving me, or when I become attached to the ritual and not the reason behind the ritual, it’s time to change things up.

I can’t say no to geriatric dinners entirely, just like I know you can’t ditch the routine of carpool or making school lunches. I won’t tell you to take a different route to school or break the golden rule of parenting and pack Lunchables, but maybe there’s one thing you always do that needs revisiting.

As for me, it’s Friday and I have no idea where I’m going to eat dinner. Last week, we ate Mexican food at 8:30 PM instead of 6:30 PM. There were no kids or elderly people in the restaurant, which was shocking. I’m not sure how I felt about it. If rituals are commitments we make to show the world what’s important, let it be known that I’m starving on Friday nights by 6:30 PM.

I don’t live in Spain where it’s okay to eat late. I’m not French, so I don’t snack lightly all day and have a great dinner with wine. I didn’t vote for Trump — and I don’t have a huge chip on my shoulder about the coastal elitists in America — but I want my dinner and a margarita while it’s still light outside. I don’t want to be judged about it, either.

That’s my ritual. That’s my routine. And it makes me happy. It stays!

2 Responses to Rituals
  1. Jennifer Miller

    Ha! Laurie you crack me up. You are so NOT geriatric.

    Wonderful and practical advice about routines – freshen it up when it makes sense and be sure the calendar is serving you, not the other way around.

    Hope your Friday plans are fun tonight!

  2. Martin H Snyder

    Rituals fascinate me. Sometimes when I’m involved in a really good time or I am aware of someone else’s unfolding, I can see proto-rituals forming as people seek to reach for that magic again.

    Of course, there are downside rituals too- the same pattern of argument with someone, or the same forms of procrastination or rationalization when we knowingly don’t do what we should do…

    Also interesting is watching rituals run out of steam- for instance, yacht racing is a dying (or dead) art in many places. The America’s cup for decades in Newport was ritualized, but now Larry Ellison runs it in the Bahamas like X games for middle aged hipsters.

    Sometimes they morph or just the very most important parts become distilled into stories or expectations, like religion in many modern families.

    It seems like one of modern life’s key skills is to be able to invest, de-invest, and share meaning in the making and unmaking of rituals. It’s what we do all day and night….