turn to each other
Celebrating whatever we could whenever we could added reserves to our marriage’s emotional bank account, a concept offered by John Gottman in his relationship guide, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. This principle works just like a monetary bank account. Every day couples have opportunities to turn toward each other in small and big ways that build up a reserve of trust and goodwill. Couples can draw on this through stressful and conflictual times. https://psychcentral.com/blog/7-research-based-principles-for-making-marriage-work/
maximize the “maxi-moments”
As much as such crucial feel-good mini-moments have contributed an overall sense of well-being to our marriage, Jay and I have also regularly relied on turning as many of them as we could into “maxi-moments.” In other words, we sparkle the glitter of celebration’s magic over life’s small achievements and imbue them with extra joy. We are now
coming into the time of year that is a heyday for celebration. The pall that has been cast of 2020 causes some people to feel as though hoopla and revelry might be out of place, but the rest of us are proclaiming, “Not at all. Never has there been a more crucial time than now to commemorate life small joys and blessings.
Through the past year I’ve taken my readers along with Jay and I through many adventures and good moments during our earlier married years – the time before we were parents. Once, we began welcoming children into our family, lots of things changed – even our love for each other. It became deeper and more meaningful as it blossomed into new life. The times and ways we celebrated also evolved.
getting ready for halloween
When our children were young, Halloween beckoned them from the end of every October, transforming the entire month into one of almost daily merrymaking. Often planning for costumes began even before October 1.
Almost daily, my children feasted on stories about dragons and princesses, fairies and witches, sprites and elves, magicians and wizards. For most of the year, those wondrous creatures were confined to the pages of fairy tale books. On Halloween, they came alive.
My children planned their costumes with dedicated enthusiasm and amazing creativity. They didn’t simply “dress up” as some fantastical character. At the core of their being they transformed into their roles. For that one night, they’d be actors on national stage. They took their parts in that performance very seriously. Many educators have noted the academic, social and emotional benefits of “dressing-up.”
https://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2016/10-benefits-of-dress-up-play-for-children.html But my children didn’t need grown-ups to tell them this. They could no more resist the pull of this alternate reality than they could resist the clanging of the ice-cream truck.
a month is a long, long time
But waiting for Halloween, even with all the costume preparation, can seem very long. A month is a big percentage of a small child’s life. Thus, like many other families, we built other rituals into October, milestones on the way to Halloween. They didn’t equal the excitement of the big day, of course, but they enhance both family bonding and holiday exuberance. Among these traditions, a visit to the pumpkin patch was, perhaps, the most anticipated.
Like the grape stomping featured in last week’s blog post (https://julewardwrites.com/committed-relationships/laugh-together-stay-together-side-effect-of-grape-stomping), a visit to the pumpkin patch offered the chance to flee the city for the day. While we all loved the vibrancy and convenience of city life, a trip to our favorite country haven helped our children learn first hand about the source of our food through a learning process that felt to them like sheer fun. Instead of heading toward Michigan, the pumpkin search took us north out of the city to Wisconsin.
city family’s day on the farm
All Southern Wisconsin, many working farms opened their gates to city
slickers like us, giving our family a peek into rural life at its best – at harvest time. We didn’t always choose the same farm because we loved exploring new places, but the experiences often mirrored one another enough that we were never disappointed. We enjoyed picking apples, drinking cider, and, of course, selecting a pumpkin for each child to take home and carve. The kids usually demanded that a corn maze and a petting zoo be part of the experience. They loved hold and petty fuzzy bunnies and feeding goats kernels of corn right from their hands.
We usually ended our day with Jay accompanying the kids on a hayride. I never wanted to go because I remembered the hayride of my childhood on my cousin’s farm. Horses pulled those wagons. At the Wisconsin farms, giant, rumbling tractors pulled the load of high-spirited kids and parents. They loved it. But it wasn’t for me. Instead, I’d wander into the farm stand and buy cider, apple butter, and pies. They were expensive but so worth it.
carve the pumpkins, eat the seeds
It would be evening by the time we headed back to the city with a car full of tired children. The next day we’d carve the pumpkins so they’d be ready to put on the front porch for Halloween. I would painstakingly clean all the strings off the seeds so we could salt and roast them. My children would not ordinarily have eaten anything quite so gritty, but it was part of the ritual. So, they savored them.
emotion bank account: in good shape
October filled our family’s emotional bank account. We would drawn down on the reserves of joy and enthusiasm in times of challenge and stress, grateful that we made plenty of space in our lives for the renewable resource, celebration.
If you are thinking that this sounds like something your family is up to, there’s sure to be a welcoming farm somewhere near you wherever you are. https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/fall/photos/top-10-pumpkin-patches
” I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne.