Last night was Twelfth Night when all the decorations are meant to come down and the household gets “back to normal”. I have never really thought much about this tradition, although always had a sense of unease if the decorations were not down by this date, so off I went to investigate.
The main reason given for the unease is because of the superstition that originally, decorations took the form of holly, ivy etc and people believed that the tree-spirits living in the greenery needed safe haven over the harsh midwinter days. If the greenery was not then returned outside after twelfth night, spring would not return, crops would fail and also the spirits could cause mischief in the house.
Another tradition on this night is the idea of “wassailing” where people get together to drink to apple trees and to each others’ health. However, it is also an opportunity to play practical jokes on each other and eat the “Twelfth Night Cake”, a rich fruit cake that has a bean in it. If you get the bean you will rule the feast and everyone has to do what you tell them to do until midnight when everything returns to normal.
The common theme here is that the normal order of things is reversed and that made me think of what indeed is “the normal order of things” in my daily life and do I want to return to it?
When single and working full time, my routine seldom varied during the week, as a timetable dictated where and when I had to be lecturing. Even at weekends, there was a expectation that I would do certain things, meet certain people, usually at the same location (usually the squash club) and at a certain time. There was a feeling of comfort in it and tho it was nice to break this routine when away on holiday, I usually ended up getting into some sort of routine there too!
Once married with young children and still working, I had to be even more organised, establishing routines around where they had to be and when, as well as work schedules. What if I had reversed this “normal order”? What would have happened? I would like to think chaos would have ensued but sadly I, nor any of us, are indispensible. There may well have been a few hiccoughs along the way but some semblance of normality would have established itself.
And what about now? Now that I am semi-retired, children grown up and fewer pressures on my time, what is normality for me? Do I just go with the flow or do I try to establish some kind of routine? The answer is a bit of both! I still have to organise my time for work, for commitments made to meeting up with friends, taking classes in new interest areas and golf, but I no longer worry if something crops up and alters all my plans – c’est la vie!
Life is for living and enjoying no matter who is “King or Queen of the Bean”. Our normality is based on our perceptions and belief systems and they may not be the same as others. We may feel we are being undermined but trying to appreciate others’ perspectives and their normal order of things is important for our sanity.
And yes my decorations are down and although the house looks rather bare, it is great to be back to my normal order of things.