It's snowing again. Gorgeously. My heavy on the weather talk blog posts this week are reminding me of conversations I had with my grandpa. We'd get on the phone and the first thing he'd ask or talk about was the weather. I would humor him and try not to let my voice reflect my colossal boredom.
I mean, what is it with weather talk? It must be one of the signs of true adulthood when you begin to actually like talking about the weather. Also, when having bird feeders that are visible from the kitchen window begins to feel like a necessity for your heart health; this is more proof of adulthood. Is it a Midwest thing? I don't know. All I know is that I love talking about the weather with my parents. I tell them about the snow and the temperature, which they already know better than me, because they have a fancy set up on their television where they can (and do) watch the weather forecasts for all their children. This is so endearing to me.
Also, it's comforting. If a freak storm comes and buries us to the rooftop in snow, kills the internet and our phones and we're stranded, it'll be okay. Mom and Dad will have watched the weather. So they'll know we're trapped in our house.
It's the little things.
When life was starting to get busier for our little family, there was a sharp sense of longing in my bones for the slow, homey flow of the earlier years when everything moved to the rhythm of a baby's needs. Sometime in 2012, I picked up this book, The Book of New Family Traditions by Meg Cox. I cried as I read about why our repeated actions matter so much, and about actions as metaphors and symbols. I'd thoroughly studied rituals as they pertain to religion and religious identity. Applying these rhythmic and repetitive practices to the art of family building transformed the way I approach my role as a mother.
The book is full of wonderful ideas, and we've adopted a few of them. Most of all, though, I revisit this book for a recharge. To be reminded that human beings need rhythm and rituals in each layer of their lives to create a sense of meaning, belonging, and place. When I'm getting frustrated by folks or groups that use their own devout practice as the ruler against which all others should be measured, I forcefully remind myself that that the ache to belong is at the core of their words and actions, as poisoned as that longing might have become. They began as a child who wanted to be nourished by the comfort of family.
Oddly enough, weather talk stirs the deep roots of my heritage. I grew up with two grandmothers who would burst into their own rendition of Harvest Moon when they noticed a full moon in the sky. We were all farm people, so the weather dictated daily activity to an extreme. Of course we're weather people. They needed to pay attention to the sky. Now I do, too. Not for my amazing farm (non-existent), but for my amazing heart.
There may be innumerable things creating separation in our families, neighborhoods, and communities. Enormous things that seem impossible to mend or even understand. Broken hearts and meanness and differences of the most fundamental opinions. At the end of the day, though, we rely on each other, even if only for a sense of place.
Rituals that seem lightweight are so often what carry relationships through the daily struggles and the big ones, too. They're the easy bridges over troubled water. They help us maintain connection in relationships that have been stretched a little too thin. I mean, truly, Friday night pizza night has given our family steady rhythm through 5 years of transplanting from one town to the next. It should not mean so much, but it does.
There are little things in every relationship. Keep doing the little things. Even when the big things get tough, and boundaries must be set to keep the relationship healthy. Even when your voice comes out patchy or strained, say, "It snowed again today." Even when making pizza dough sounds like death, just put the ingredients in the bowl and mix. Don't give up on what has proven itself to be good. It's how we save the baby from the bathwater. One intentional moment at a time.
By the way...I just got off the phone. Guess what we talked about?
Weather talk is everywhere.
ps - Abusive relationships cannot be healed with rhythm, traditions, or rituals. If you've read Fierce Solidarity you know how I feel about handling abusive relationships.
pps - Strained relationships, in my brain, are healthy relationships that are suffering for having been stretched too thin.
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.