Building our own year

We don’t have time in this Cotswolds life to focus on the changing seasons and think about the meaning or symbolism of traditions we celebrate throughout the year. I love ritual and ceremony, and Ben has come to love keeping certain foods, movies, trips for specific times of year so that they become imbued with more significance and we appreciate them more.

Here, I’ve toyed with, unsuccessfully, adding celebrations to our calendar to give us occasions to look forward to beyond just Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas. Having spent two Thanksgivings stateside, and having Jewish roots on my mom’s side I tried to kick start new family traditions that meant something to me but because they meant nothing to Ben, they could never take.

All being at home, every day in our new French existence, we’re going to need structure to our days, weeks, and months to keep us focused, active, interested, and creative. Individually we’ll create daily and weekly routines for getting our work done. Ben deciding how his hours in his writing studio will fit with the school run, with time thinking time, and  time with me. I’ll have to decide when is going to be the best slot for food shopping and business emails and accounts. Mom will, I think, fall into a comfortable pattern of morning gardening followed by more leisurely afternoons with a couple of social engagements through the week.

But as a family, as a household, I want us to have structure to our year. We talked about offering different types of roulotte stays throughout the year depending on the season. Skiers in winter, walkers and cyclists in spring and summer, writers retreats in the autumn, with December off as our family month. When I was designing my home schooling curriculum I knew I wanted the topics the children were learning about to permeate our lives in such a way that they would connect with trips out, and meals we’d cook, and global dates of significance across a range of cultures.

I have been fastidious over our Christmas traditions, because I want repetition. I want to be able to follow my standard meal plan for Christmas weeks, and recipes for those meals, and for the kids to layer memory upon memory of advent socks and Christmas eve boxes. I yearn for constancy and certainty throughout the year now, as a security blanket. Because we’re moving alone to another culture? Because I want to have to think less? I’m such an impulsive and flexible person. I used to detest Amazon wishlists. But somehow putting careful thought into what each of our birthdays, anniversaries, and other family occasions will entail, adds meaning. Planning this way helps me to imagine making special. It comes down to Ben and I believing that each of us has our own method. We’ve decided that Christmas gifts, unlike birthday gifts should all speak to our methods. Next Christmas Seb will be getting a microphone with stand. Not a toy one. He’ll be 4 and tools to further our methods can’t be play things. Cali will get an easel.

Continued

~J

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