KEEPING THE HEART ALIVE -- The RITUALS OF the LOVING FAMILY

Who was it who said that the opposite of love was not HATE, it was indifference? Somebody did and I agree. The indifferent relationship has no love in it. It is a heart pierced by an arrow that has scarred up, hardened and tried to be immune to pain. A hard heart.

BY that way of measuring and thinking, most married folks are walking around in a state that is the opposite of love! Most children are walking around with no affection for their own parents. The only loving hearts are little babies who are totally dependent on the parent, so they're really in deep dark Stockholm syndrome. Love is an infant's only choice, but it's a love being tested daily by parents in stress who barely have time to throw a bottle into the crib and skidaddle off to work. Mean mommie and disinterested Guatemalan maid.

The resulting societal ALIENATION is the most common malady of the post-industrial epoch, striking every family in some degree. Like chronic fatigue syndrome, it's easy to banish. First, understand how it fell on us.

When the historic male quit tilling the primordial field with their wife and children playing beside him in the shade, and started  going off to the factory, the first infection of alienation began. The man tired himself off where woman was not there to admire and refresh him, to talk to him, to laugh at him or with him. She stayed home with the babies all day, inanimate as a pound animal, caged alone. He sweated alone and it was empty indeed.

Then, when women quit breast feeding at forty days and returned to work, leaving babies in  no-breast-zone- daycare, another equally severe and primordial degree of alienation occurred.

The loving interaction of a baby feeding while he stares up into his mother's face is emotionally nurturing. It is the ground work for a normal psyche. Happy babies are breastfed for a year. Weaning is more natural and tolerated by the child's emotions at that age. It is the baby's daily joy-of-love and joy is very important. It is as important as food.

Healthy families have simple ecstasies and they have them together. These can be the gorgeous period of infancy, this beautiful creature suddenly plopped into the family circle. It can be gamboling by the field where Dad plows or meals shared in special circumstances, picnics in the park, or sitting together in the garden watching the babies play or the family dog play while eating a picnic lunch. It can be dining with friends and family all together in the lanai with Christmas tree lights strung around the eaves, hawaiian music playing.

Humans can be lured by clever, aesthetic stage managing into being excited, warm, happy. They can be enthralled by laughing together watching movies or television. And get them lit, they're capable of producing their own sunlight, little sparks that radiate off hearts as friends dine or play together, Children playing in front of the parents on the grass, or everyone watching a good film, engrossed, holding hands, sharing impressions.

Unhealthy people do not do any of that. They stay up in their own head, busy with obsessive trivia. They watch a lot of television; they shop a lot, watch a lot of television and films. Perhaps family members are around but they're not interacting. They are focused on the movie or off on their own. They do not share banquets with friends on holidays. They have perfunctory meals, nobody says 'very tasty', they just finish, wipe their mouths, stand and leave.

On weekends, the alienated husband goes off to do his thing, visit the gym or go fishing or he hides in the garage under a car with a wrench in hand and the radio on. He continues 'his solitary busyness.' If he is prodded to do so, he will participate in recreation, holidays, parties but doesn't come up with these ideas himself.

Togetherness, experincing the lively, glowing unique eternal NOW-MOMENT --under even routine circumstances, works to arouse then cement family affections. It's routine to sit in the garden every Saturday and go out to dinner every Sunday but creating an elegant dinner every night is our goal.

And occasionally, create changing circumstances, new places to dine, in the lanai, in the daytime, out in nature, with picnic food, recreation, games, barbecues, other family's children invited. Or eat in the living room to view Movies, a favorite tv show. Zest, enthusiasm. Laughs. Comedy. I'm sure the people at ARBITRON and NIELSEN ratings have a superb grasp on what makes a show highly rated so that the whole family assembles to watch it.

If these simple activities are not worked into the 7 days of the week, kids learn a sorry impersonal independence of  family life. They are more cut off emotionally. These mealtime habits fight that off. Be aware that mealtime magic is a magic ritual. In most families, they are forgotten. If a wife doesn't determine which are the magic rituals, find or start such lively events, she will have a drab marriage, emotionally cut off  kids. Why would any wife and mother choose to go down that lane?

Women do all the time. She may be damaged from an alienated childhood where every day was like the other. Where Dad sat down at dinner, and after ten minutes of chewing, got up wiped his mouth and wasn't heard from again for 24 hours.

A woman who was damaged thusly can't be expected to come up with the joyful activities of family life. It would be like expecting a blind person to enjoy assembling a Rubik's Cube.

The blind bride may welcome the fact hubby only comes home after work and is tiresome just for the space of dinner. She may welcome being left alone on Saturdays and Sunday while he pursues his gym workouts or hunting, fishing or football games.

If a wife starts the emotionally full, magical mealtime habits, and a husband/father doesn't go along with them, and if he doesn't show up and come up with this type of activity or plan them himself, then he may be similarly alienated. But the magic RITUALS suggest below will change him back to emotionally healthy. They're not called MAGIC for nothing!

IF the wife forgets to start such recreational habits and her hubby doesn't think of any of it, on his own, he may prefer it this way. Or he may be a bozo without imagination. Or he may have a girl on the side and be thinking of her so intensely he doesn't notice how shabby his own homelife is.

Done right, HOLIDAYS with our chums invited over for televised ball games or feasts is very emotionally fulfilling to men and children. Do we have a social set? Church or Temple often fills this need. The rituals of the church dinner or bingo game, the church picnic...are useful.

THE POINT is, DRAB versus GORGEOUS, SUMPTUOUS. It doesn't take money, it takes a will to enhance life. To be like a set decorator who creates a stage setting where magical things seem about to happen. To be like a nutritionist banishing stupor with spinach salad. Find your high energy fuels, visuals, ocular stimulation, perfumes, incense, wind chimes, music, low lighting, all these are known sensory enhancers.

HOW TO GET THE AMBIANCE OF FULLNESS:
1). Get a boom box that plays a stack of CD's so you can leave the thing alone all night long playing soft, great music, classical or jazz, Hank Mancini, movie theme music. Kitsch not rock. For romance, MILES DAVIS!
2.) Get several fabric 'throws' and throw a square yard of orange, fire colored scarf over every lampshade, so that the golden light pours thru this gorgeous silk, evocative of flame, or chimney light. (If you have a chimney, light it up).
3.) Plates of fruit in all the home's public rooms, living room, kitchen, dining room. Bouquets of fragrant flowers and fresh green leaves in the rooms, also.
4.) Light the outdoors with garden lighting, those green low voltage lights, set among the plants and trees and then, leave the curtains open so nature is present inspiring those within the house with her presence. Light the lanai outside living room with small Christmas lights year round. 99.c everywhere now. Switch is in the house, so it's an easy switch to turn-on  during dinner.
5.) At night, when guests come, a wine bottle already opened. I can keep an opened bottle around for a month or two without it changing into vinegar. I've timed it. So you don't have to drink the whole thing immediately.
6.) Fake fur rugs on top of a few couches and chairs. Oriental rugs in the color PUMPKIN/ORANGE. The entire house glows with that color, comes alive. Baskets of oranges, pears to match on table top.
7.) the hostess wears a floor length casual dress, not called 'hostess'garb for nothing.
8).Babies and parents dine together. If a child asks for wine, pour a tsp. into their red juice. Weak sangria so they don't feel deprived or left out.
9).Big heaping serving plates of food placed on the table for the eye to feast on create appetite & suggest bounty. Serving every plate at the table is thrilling, evocative. Bringing plates of food from the kitchen doesn't cut it and it's really more work. A four course meal entails four big serving plates brought to the table. Serving spoons and forks are required.
10) No-iron cloth napkins not paper. Garage sales provide endless napkins. Soak in pail after meal, next wash, throw them in. Real silver service not req'd as silver gets dinged by too regular use and after care is tedious. Stainless is fine.

All of these things ensure the evening meal is a UFO trip to magic land. The eternal moment. Now is forever. That is real magic and few people know how much and value it properly. Laying the track for mealtime sharing, conversation, amusing each other and feeling mutual affection will prove efficacious at keeping the young child's heart alive and the family's communal heart vibrant and united. That father will never not appreciate his wife and children; he will never wander off with some babe. That wife will not shop til she drops in a perpetual search for a thrill as well as a prolonged fit of covert aggression against her hubby. Nor will she demand restaurant food every night. (Ensuring her brood never can afford college or that first 4-unit bldg.) which all college grads should get!

A husband watches his wife pull all this magic out of a hat 7 days a week, he's going to be devoted to her and there are other joys that provene from these small, gentle rituals of familial love and joy but this is a G-rated article so we're not going there. Just remember, you heard it here, MILES DAVIS.

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Anita Sands Hernandez astrology at earthlink net