So as a little kid, I think the one thing that probably drove my parents battier than anything was my affinity for having a FULL SET. If I loved something and there was a full set available, I needed it. Toys, baseball cards, stickers, books, you name it. It was nothing if there were pieces missing!
If there was a sticker book that needed 20 different animals and I could only find 19? Well, charge up the word processor, I had a letter to write to Lisa Frank. And if I had the entire 1992 Oakland A's roster cards EXCEPT for Jose Canseco? Well, I might as well trade out the whole box because what was the point of that? And if Burger King gave away Lion King toys in their kid's meals and I only had six of the seven?
Break out the phone book, Ma. I'm calling every Burger King within 20 miles. I LOVED LION KING.
I realize this sounds spoiled, but hear me out. I really loved to finish things. I loved reaching a terminal point in a collection, saying, "I am done with this. This is all I need." As I've gotten older, this has transferred over to other things (I don't collect toys anymore I SWEAR, but I do like to finish a good book/series if I start one. Good video games must be beaten. I'll usually watch an entire show well into the seasons where they "started to go downhill.")
Anyways, back to the Lion King thing.
I had all of the Lion King toys EXCEPT for Nala. And after a week of phone calls, it turned out that the only Nala in Arizona at the time was at a Burger King 45 minutes away. (Years later, I do realize that it was probably the only place that would bother to check their tub of toys on behalf of a frantic sounding 12 year old on the phone. Thanks, Paradise Valley Burger King!)
When I returned home with my prize, I staged a very public (very embarrassing, in retrospect) very joyous ritual in which I placed Nala on my desk with all the other animals. Complete with the soundtrack, of course. It was one of the proudest moments of my life up to that point: using my own money I bought more kid's meals than I could possibly want to eat, but I had the FULL SET. I did it! I completed the Circle of Life! I had a lovely bunch of
And the crazy silly ritual that marked completion? It wasn't just weirdly fun, it was necessary! I remember being so happy, so proud of myself for such...uh..."hard" work.
I love seeing certain types of rituals as celebrations, symbolic and joyous celebrations of beginnings and ends. You finish writing a book, you reward yourself with the highly joyous ritual of chocolate and seven straight seasons of The West Wing (okay, that just may be my personal ritual--I like pretending that I'm as witty as Josh Lyman). You get yourself a book deal? You take yourself on a nice vacation! And if you get yourself a huge book deal? Well, by golly you better believe you're taking me.
What rituals do you reward yourself with on completion of a big task?
Postscript: In case you were wondering, it's been 18 years and I still have ALL of the toys---which are now enjoyed daily by my own kid. It's the CIIIIRRRCCCLLLEE OF LIIIIIFE (come on, you knew that was coming.)