WELCOME TO BARBARA’S BLOG AND TO THE PRE-THANKSGIVING LACE CURTAIN RITUAL: A FAMILY TRADITION
As I think about Thanksgiving, I smell the sweetness of baking pies, cookies and puddings that went on for days. Then the savory turkey dressing. Yes, the food was delicious and there were many family members gathered together. But the holiday began even earlier than the baking with fall cleaning that included a main event: Hanging the lace curtains in the dining and living rooms.
The magic of the lace curtains was the intricacy of their pattern and the delicate and loving attention they received from my grandmother and mother. With the greatest of care they hand washed, starched and then stretched the curtains in pairs on a wooden frame that was surrounded with sharp pins. The curtains were fastidiously hooked over these pins to ensure that the lace wasn’t damaged or that fingers weren’t pricked. This was both a delicate and dangerous task. The stretcher was then expanded until there wasn’t the hint of a wrinkle in the lace. This ritual was usually accompanied by at least one incident that put the lace curtains in jeopardy. Panic. A quick fix. And all was well.
While pairs of curtains were drying, the windows were shined. As I think about her doing this, I’m amazed. These were large windows. To reach all the corners of the glass you had to sit on the outside window ledge with the window pulled onto your lap, your feet dangling inside the apartment. Courageously, my mother did this, happily shining the glass as my grandmother pressed on her knees for leverage. When my mother finished, there was a sigh of relief from all–and not a spot on the glass. On some occasions, the glass couldn’t even be seen.
Now for the finale: Hanging the beautiful lace curtains in the sparkling windows. Each panel was carefully hung on a rod at the top of the window. A silk drape in a rich fall color was then hung on either side, its contrast giving center stage to the lace curtains.
The joy of seeing the results, the wonder of viewing the outside through the pattern of the lace and the crystal clear windows, and above all, the significance of honoring the changing of the seasons with Thanksgiving, have given me a special fondness for any image that involves a beautifully dressed window. It’s a metaphor for a home that protects the family within from winter’s drafts as the falling leaves and winter’s blanket of snow protect the earth from the cold.
Elevate Your Tasks to Rituals…
…My grandmother and mother were artists of this craft. They elevated seasonal household tasks to rituals by giving them their personal best, sharing them with my sister and me, repeating the steps year after year, and always filling the air with the urgency that comes from expectation. And, of course, milk and fresh-baked cookies.
Every family has a ritual waiting to be elevated to an event. Consider the preparations for Thanksgiving in this way–or all the preparations required for Christmas and Chanukah. These all have the urgency of a deadline, can involve family or friends and establish, re-instate, renew or establish a family tradition.
A Process For Elevating Tasks to Rituals
1. Align yourself with the Divine and state your intention with reverence.
2. Involve others in the task. Invite family or friends to enjoy this with you. (This was usually done with my grandmother, mother, sister and me.)
3. Create a sense of urgency and/or expectation for the outcome by planning to finish the task in a day or two.
4. Celebrate your achievement by taking time to enjoy the results of your efforts, followed by either a meal or a special warm drink and a sweet treat.
Now it’s time for me to dress my own windows.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving! And please share your holiday rituals in Comments.
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