I have on my desk a small, simple book: Ceremonials of Common Days, by Abbie Graham. It has been there for several months. The little antique volume was given to me as gift from one of our very sweet Weekend Workshop guests. Published by The Womans Press in the 1920s, it smells the way an old book should smell, but I can tell from the pages and cover that has been handled with care over many decades.

The sections of the book are divided into ‘Ceremonials’ for each season. The old-fashioned passages describe the passing moments that make up any ordinary day, but it is each of these exact moments and objects that make that day so very special.

From the Forward:

“A Ceremonial may be interpreted as a spiritual obeisance to the created beauty of the world.”

It is a sentimental little volume; however, sometimes I enjoy a little sentimentality.

“Ceremonials of Spring” include titles like: The First Fruits of My Garden, Vagabond Rites, Little Rituals of Beauty, Easter, and Birthdays.

This quote from Thoreau is inserted between “Vagabond” and “Little Rituals of Beauty:”

“Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the infidels.”

Little Rituals of Beauty:

“The Ceremonial of Alabaster arrives unexpectedly, usually on some busy city street. The details of its arrival are these—there will be a shop-window displaying yellow bowls and plate and pitchers, or a coffee post, or daffodils, or a leather note-book or a blue rug. The soul stops when it has particular need of just that thing. There is an argument between one’s selves, an argument which may continue for many days, even weeks. To avoid the altercations, the Soul uses the other side of the street for a while. And then one morning there is much sunshine, or perhaps rain, and the Soul goes in and makes a hasty purchase.”

And in “Easter,” Abbie Graham provides a list for what she would take to heaven:

My Celestial Shopping List

One Tea-room, serving cinnamon toast by a fireplace
Two Roads, one small, unimportant; one wide, very important
Queen Anne’s lace
A Waterfall
One Range of Mountains
One Blue Pine Tree, a Double Row of Poplars and Two Birches
Candles, orange and blue
One Fireplace
Blue Tea Cups, at least two
A Sunrise
One Small island, with large hemlock tree and little wintergreen flowers
One Head Waiter with One Sub Waiter
A Little Garden
A Stony Brook
A Small Post Office

I spent some time over the weekend thinking about what my list would include.

What would be on your list?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Click to read 6 comments
  1. sandy Connelly

    The scent of pinion burning on a crisp cold day
    The sound of wind through pine trees
    needles, thread, colored pencils, paper
    coffee, playing cards.
    The silence of a snow covered earth..
    chocolate…one of my grandmother’s quilts,

  2. jonn

    Rain on a skylight or tin roof
    Cat and kittens
    Dogs and puppies
    Watercolors and paper
    Loved ones clothing for fabric and scissors
    Needles and thread
    Lily of the Valley and lilacs
    Drifts of snow
    Beach and ocean
    Wool and a hook
    Morels and fresh fruit
    Cheese and butter
    My feather pillow

    1. Karen K.

      This reminds me of a quote that I tore out of a magazine some years ago:

      “Pay attention to the little things because someday you will realize that they were the big things.”

  3. Sarah Graham

    Abbie Graham, the author of this little book, was my great great aunt! I was so happy to dine your post and see the pictures from her book.