I’ve been reading “Wintering”, a book by Katherine May. She writes about winter as an important part of the year for downtime. If the summer months are day then the colder ones are night — a time to recharge. And so on, repeating every year.
As someone who much prefers summer to winter, I’ve been thinking about how rituals play an important part in my wintering, and helping me get through the darker months. Regular routines and rituals, whether daily or weekly, impose structure and order, chart the passing of time (and reassure me that summer really is getting closer), and also give me a feeling of comfort and control. These are things we choose to do because we want to, not things we have to do (like going to work, or the school run).
My days are divided into work and not-work, play and not-play. Going on the Peloton early in the morning gives me my daily dose of intense physical exercise, which I follow with slower yoga. Meditation and writing in my gratitude diary are gentler daily mental exercises. On days when I’m not working, we share coffee around the kitchen table.
Our daughter has introduced us to their daily practice of playing Geoguessr, which requires you to guess where you are in the world, just by moving around in Google Street View. And when we are together, we all play as a team to help maintain their streak. This was an enjoyable after-dinner ritual during the winter holidays.
Fizz Fridays are something to tether the week, a way to mark the end of the working week and start the weekend with a bang (well, the pop of a cork). Whether it’s just us at home, or more often with close friends, we celebrate the end of the week with food, wine and conversation. We deal with the trials, triumphs and drama of the week in what sometimes feels like a group-therapy session. It’s like pressing a reset button as we go into the weekend.
Saturday afternoons are our usual time for walking together, as we take in different views.
Saturday night is pizza time — preceded by cocktails, and followed by watching a film.
Weekend lunches are often random affairs but Sunday dinner is always a roast chicken. This is non-negotiable. It’s a comforting family meal with all of us around the table, a ritual that sets us up for the coming week.
In our house, many of our rituals revolve around the kitchen table. I know other people whose rituals involve breakfast in bed, washing the car, of getting take-away on a particular night of the week. These rituals and routines run throughout the year. But I am particularly aware of them in the winter, to keep myself sane and give myself fixed points in the day and the week to look forward to. Summer can’t come soon enough, but in the meantime I have my rituals to sustain me. What are yours? Tell me in the comments!