On Sunday my aunt Reba would remind my uncle Richard (who never went to church), to drive the 35 miles to fetch his Mother for Sunday Dinner. My uncle was a true gentleman who fetched his Mamma quietly and without comment. He always greeted her with “Mornin’ Mamma, ’bout ready to go?” “Now, Richard you know better than to rush me on a Sunday Morning.”
Then off we went for the return 35 miles through the country during which Mrs. Wright never missed even the smallest bit of gossip. If she did she would cover it on the return trip.
Dinner was ready when we got there and Mrs. Wright continued to tell my aunt the same and more of what had happened in her last week. My uncle then excused himself for a nap and “mamma” continued non-stop.
About three, Uncle Richard’s nap usually over, and my aunt’s mind, though never her eyes, was glazed over. “Ready to go home Mamma?” and off we went again. As we got there Mrs. Wright would open her front door and, when she had looked under every bed to make sure things were safe — “See you next week, Richard.”
What has happened to our rituals? Yes I know some were silly to some but to others they were the social glue that held our civility in a higher place than the mundane. The ritual of communal eating and drinking still exists occasionally, where that coming together reminds us of something human we need — to be with others in a joyous, non-judgmental celebration of the values we as humans hold highest. Yes, what has happened to our human rituals? Where do we now reserve time for something other than ourselves or fulfilling those chores that life no longer has a time slot for? If we are to sustain a humanity we need those regular set-aside times in which we are communally human.