I think ritual might be the line between drudgery and enjoyment, or, in the case of dinner, the line between ordinary and elegant.
The ritual, inconsistently employed, that elevates my dinner experience from ordinary to elegant is a candle. I love presentation, but more often that not time and hunger seem to usurp any hope of grace. To quote Elaine, “…and now I just feel like a big sweaty hog waiting for them to fill the trough.”
Then I had a discussion with a friend about Leila’s eating habits, and the constant grazing and the complete lack of meal times and she suggested adding a ritual. It was simple – lighting a candle and saying a prayer. And that one more, little thing seemed utterly beyond grasp. How could I make dinner and light a candle? It was too much. But I tried it. Before our next meal, I took a moment and walked to the hallway and brought out a tiny tea light in a plain glass holder, and before the meal I lit it.
It was transformative. Suddenly our meal had this distinct beginning and end. The prayer felt less rushed. The mealtime felt more sacred.
Candles. I understand why they are a part of so many traditions.
I do not remember to light a candle before every meal. Now they sit on our dining room table, but it might take me days to take two minutes to change an extinguished candle and sometimes I do not feel like walking three steps to get the matches.
Tonight I did it though. Ben made dinner. I cleared the table and refilled the candles and lit them. And dinner felt special.
(Sometimes, on New Year’s Eve we get really fancy and light lots of candles and wear our best tutu and flower headband to the table too.)
Do you have any simple rituals that elevate the ordinary to elegant, or make the mundane a little more enjoyable?
I’ve realized I have started to integrate them into my life in small ways.