Daily Connections

by Lisa M. G. Dennis (Giggles)

I love traditions. I love the anchoring they give us. One year into our marriage I wrote a post about how we were establishing our own holiday traditions, figuring out what mattered to both of us from our families and how we were going to make it work with our new family. And I must admit that as our first anniversary approached I stressed more than one logically should about the fact that we’d get ONE shot to establish “things we do every anniversary” and spent more time than I should have trying to figure out something meaningfully significant we could do every anniversary, understanding that life would change and take us different places as the years went by. With three anniversaries under our belt, I can look back and laugh. The meaningfully significant thing we’ve done every time was something that happened without any thought at all. And I love it.

While the big traditions are fun, I like the little ones as well. I’ve been thinking about what makes something a tradition rather than a habit. While the two can be used as synonyms, they aren’t the same. One of the definitions of tradition is “a specific custom or practice of long standing.” But I don’t think my long-standing practice of flossing and then brushing my teeth before bed every night counts as a tradition. I’d never call my almost lifelong custom of eating Cheerios for breakfast a tradition. My practice of doing the dark laundry before the light laundry—not a tradition. Nor is how I fold my socks. Those are habits.

Over my many years in post-secondary school I’ve taken four classes that changed my world (surprisingly, only one had to do with my specific area of study). My last semester of my bachelor’s degree I took a folklore class. It changed how I view my community, whoever happens to be in my community at that time. One way to describe folk art is that it is taking the everyday mundane of life and making it beautiful, meaningful. It’s decorating the pot you cook in, weaving a pattern into the blanket you sleep under, pinning a flower to the hat that keeps you safe from the sun, the flourish you add when preparing the evening meal.

Our daily traditions are our folk art. Blowing a kiss at each other whenever one of us leaves the house (or at the stop sign at the end of the street if we both leave at the same time) gives meaning and beauty to departure. Saying the same phrase to each other as we turn off the light at night provides comfort and security as we go to sleep.

Our daily traditions grew out of our life over time. They weren’t handed down specifically from generations past. Who knows if our future generations will do them. But they are our traditions. They add meaning, significance, and beauty to our daily routines.

The big traditions are wonderful, and I love them. But I love the little small ones that add a touch of connection to every day.

Photo: Vivian Chen

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  • While not a perfect song (I don’t really like thinking about the D-word, thanks), this reminds me of the song “Little Things You Do Together” from the musical Company. http://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/company/littlethingsyoudotogether.htm

    I stressed a little about our first Valentine’s Day together and our first time celebrating the husband’s birthday, feeling much like you did about your first anniversary and establishing family traditions right away. I wanted to do more, use some of those creative ideas I’ve been stashing for my someday husband. But I was in my last semester of grad school and I really didn’t have the time. We still made both those days special, but it’s the days and little things in between that are really the most important.

    • High five for a Sondheim reference. That song is one of my faves.

    • Helen S

      Haha! “It’s the hobbies we pursue together, looks we misconstrue together, that make perfect relationships”. Love it.

  • CII

    I’d love to hear more about other people’s daily traditions they have in their relationships. Here’s a few of ours…

    – there are a few of our favorite songs that we have a specific dance for whenever they come on at home. and then, when we’ve seen those folks perform concerts live, we’ve done those dances there, as well
    – friday night = takeout (or something similar) + wine + a movie. I suppose that’s maybe a habit, but do it often enough, and it sure feels like a tradition
    – certain sayings and responses (it’s almost like a marco / polo call or a sonar / echo call and response)

    • Your Friday night sounds like a tradition to me. For me the difference is traditions have meanings, habits we do without thinking.

    • Helen S

      If my girl makes it to bed before me, she’ll start off on my side so it’s warm when I get there. So cute.

    • Stephanie

      We do the echo response comments as well, whether in public or in private! They make no sense to anyone else, but I love every single one. “Know what I’m saying?” “Namaste”.

    • Blimunda

      We have Sunday night homemade pizza + same tv show since our very first winter together, five years ago. We were not living together and could spend little time with each other on weekdays, so it was like an extra big hug and mourning the end of the weekend (I had a particularly shitty job back then). We still love it now that we live together :)

  • What a lovely post. I love the idea of thinking of our little traditions as our folk art.

  • Every night before bed, since we started dating, we share our favorite part of our day with each other. That doesn’t mean best part, but favorite part. I like it so much I do it with whoever I am near at bedtime if we are not near each other. It has been a helpful way to review the day, take stock of life and be grateful. Plus, it naturally helps us share with at least one significant moment with each other every single day (even if that significant moment is not an important milestone). Highly recommend you all steal this one!

    • mimi

      I am going to steal it! :)

  • Louise

    Over the past nearly decade that I have been with my husband, there have been moments that he has decided were tradition even when I had no intention of repeating them ever. I love it. I made pancakes a few weekends in a row, and now, its “pancake day” every sunday.

    • We have Taco Monday. Used to be tacos and “Chuck.” Sometimes we still pull out the DVDs.

    • Another Annie

      We have “biscuits and sausage gravy Sunday” for that exact reason!

    • Teresa

      We have Fajita Monday! Also, Breakfast with the Beatles on Saturdays and Sunday Sinatra!

    • We just decided today that on Sunday nights, we won’t be eating in front of the tv. Just us and a nicely set table.

  • Oh how come I missed this yesterday?
    Such a beautiful post, Giggles, you are the best. And yes those little things that we do, that are part of our daily rituals, that slowly define our relationship are where the beauty lies. Thanks for putting it out there.

    And I read the definition of folk art and kept thinking of graffiti’s…

    • Graffiti definitely counts as the folk art of a sub-community. Unfortunately the larger community tends to look down on that sub-community for a lot of reasons. Interestingly, the larger community has no problem with the value of cave paintings. :)

  • Julie

    When we’re together and want to silently say ” I Love You” we’d give the other 3 squeezes. We might be just riding in the car, or in a public place with lots of people.

    This came from a pretty morbid conversation about what we would do it we couldn’t communicate with each other normally, if one of us was hospitalized, etc. – but its stuck around and is one of my most favorite traditions of us. And hopefully we’ll never have to use it for it’s originating use.

    • We make the sign for “I love you” in each other’s hands, Helen Keller style.

      • Julie

        We do that as we’re driving away from each other. :) So Sweet.

  • Laura

    We try to imitate the sounds our cat makes down the hallway at each other while I’m getting ready in the morning and he’s already working from the home office.

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