Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rituals


My favorite Christmas gift this year was not found at Best Buy.  Several days before Christmas, I was told that my presence at Nana's house would not be appreciated.  Apparently the kids were hard at work painting and preparing the letters for a present they wanted me to have.  It was a simple block of wood, painted matte black with letters that spelled out a simple message: "I love you... more".  Like most precious gifts, the value to me is not in the price of the wood, or the effort that went into mounting the letters.  Rather, the gift is in the symbolism. 

"More" is the name of a song by Matthew West.  It is part of a ritual I have with my kids.  We often exchange the endearment, "Love you!" when taking leave of each other and it grew into a kind of send off every morning when I drop them off at school:
Me: Bye, kids.  Learn a lot today!  I love you!
Ethan: I love you, too!
MH: I love you, more!
Ele: ... than the sun...
Me: ... and the stars...
MH: ... That I taught how to shine...
Ethan: ... you are mine, and you SHINE for me, too!

and on and on till we've sung out the chorus to each other.  So, this present they made for me is more than just a cute remembrance.  It is evidence to me that I have succeeded in impacting my children with a ritual.  This will be a "my dad used to say this to me all the time" kind of thing for the rest of their lives.  When they hear the song on the radio, they'll think of this connection and know they are loved.

Rituals are important for families.  For some, sitting down to a family meal is a ritual that binds them together.  Vacations, road trips, traditions, they can all be sorts of rituals.  I think of the sacred rituals that connect us at church: the singing, the prayers, the sharing of the Lord's supper.  Our congregation has a ritual where we close each worship service by singing, "Doxology".

Parents, if you don't have some sort of "I love you" ritual with your children, I urge you to develop one.  They help to deepen our children's sense of attachment and belonging to family and are part of a healthy way to build emotional safety in the family.  A child's sense of self-worth and identity are formed, in large part, by the relationships from their family of origin.  I can't think of a better gift that we can bestow upon our children than a deep and long lasting sense of being loved and cared for.  Maybe, it'll mean so much to them, they'll make a plaque to commemorate it. >grin<

-I love you, dear reader... more.

-jeff

4 comments:

DaveE said...

And Jeff, I love you too--and more...than the day before.
Love,
Dad

Anonymous said...

Love you too Jeff......more every day. So look forward to your blogs. mauh.

Love,
Montie

Marlis said...

A perfect post Jeff. Love the gift. I think with each child it could be a bit different. My little Michael always said he loved me this big. So guess what happened when the song came out.. I cried. And now that he is all of 30.. we still play the Love you more/this big game.. thanks for the trip down memory lane! xo marlis

OpheliaRedstar said...

Beautiful...simply beautiful.