When my dad used to pick me up on weekends as a kid, we had a tradition of going to a Mexican food place down the street and ordering a combo meal for the candy. For years, though he was long gone, I kept going back to the restaurant and collecting the candy. It made me feel good to have a ritual to continue to lean on.
Until one day, in my late teens, I opened the shoebox full of five years of Kit-Kats and Smarties and Dum-Dums and thought, Why the hell do I have this? It didn’t make me feel connected to him anymore. If anything, it was a burden and clinging to this old ritual was making me sad. I threw it all away.
I remembered about this shoebox of candy the other day when I was thinking about food rituals — how they start, and how we don’t notice when they’ve stopped working for us. Until one day, we open the metaphorical box, see the thing clearly, and think: what is this still doing here??
Sometimes we create food rituals with family and friends, or as part of a time we carve out to spend in solitude, perhaps with a book.
Other times, marketers create them for us.
Do we notice when the feeling isn’t there? Do we let ourselves notice? Humans are bad at detecting when we’re unhappy, one of my friends, a philosophy professor, remarks.
More often, it seems easier, gentler on our sensitive souls, to pretend we are happy. And this is the only way I can explain my seven-year loyalty to Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes. … Keep reading