The best part of my day is definitely cocktail hour. Don’t worry, I’m not on the fast track to AA. Our own personal “cocktail hour” is when, after a long day of work, my mom and I flock to the kitchen, where she shakes a martini or pours scotch on the rocks, and I make myself a cup of tea (or two). While we figure out what to make for dinner we gossip, sometimes work on the crossword puzzle together (she knows the answers I don’t, and vice versa), laugh a lot, and without fail have our nightly date with Chris Matthews, watching him shout at his guests and rolling our eyes at Pat Buchanan (they say not to discuss politics, religion or money in polite company or blogs, but oh well). I think my cat must somehow recognize that she’s “one of the girls,” because she’ll often join us, jump up to sit on a stool at the table with us. She knows this is where she’ll find us and just wants to hang out too, even though she starts to fall asleep sitting up within minutes, her eyes drooping closed. The value is just in being there, even though it’s nothing exciting, and it happens every day.
It’s something we’ve been doing for years now: when I was in high school, at home during college breaks, and now visiting for the holidays and to figure out what-to-do-with-my-life. A simple little daily ritual, nothing to write home about, but the kind of thing you don’t know what you’d do without. Unwinding together, someone you’re sure understands you despite all your differences of temperament and personality, an ongoing conversation over days or weeks. Routine, and the simple act of connecting, is something that keeps us sane. All too often we don’t realize that, we take it for granted until we lose it — even if it’s pursuing something worthwhile and good — but this time I’m not, I know just how much I’ll miss the other pea in the pod. I don’t mind being a mamma’s girl, because she’s my inspiration in so many ways. I know how much I’ll feel like the world is upside down for a while, until I adjust. I know all about the uncertainty, that feels like the floor dropping out from under you, that I can anticipate in the coming weeks, but I also know that it comes with higher highs. That’s how it is, when you’re shaken out of your normal, and you feel everything in more of an extreme.
But what on earth am I going to do without cocktail hour?
Do you have your own bonding ritual with family? A daily routine that helps you stay sane? I would love to know that I’m not just completely overly sentimental.