I like traditions. Connections. Nostalgia.
I like to see the same Christmas ornaments hung on the tree, and taking the annual vacation to the same spot. I like the seeing stores pass from father to child, eating Poulane bread in Paris made the way the monks have made it for hundreds of years and eating a White Spot burger with family members in BC.
Traditions are connections to something. My friend Nancy’s annual New Year’s Eve evening with friends connects her with her friends, the memories made over 12 years attending together and the relationships made at Queen’s University. Annette’s are her recipes of course, so many named for friends and relatives that passed it along or made it first reminding her of meals shared by all of her families and what she has to share with others. Emile’s annual fishing trip (although something of a past tradition) with the boys connects him with Celestica, the days of so much disposable income and few responsibilities for 5 young men. My mom’s Christmas carolling candles that she sets up every year (without burning) takes her back to Christmases with her own mother before cancer changed that. But those candles are also infused with all the Christmases she spent with my Dad, me and Todd and representative of the Christmases we will spend together again.
These traditions represent and remind me of connections I have with family, friends, my country, society, and the world. More than memories – feelings – of times past, when I was alive and when I was not. I must note, that not all things “traditional” should be around. Only traditions that make everyone affected feel happy or at least neutral. If you pull out Christmas ornaments that your grandma made for you that you stored your damp basement and they got mouldy, then you should not hang on to them. Sure, maybe tell her to crack out the crochet needles, but toss them. Be sad, but be happy that the blackened stained furry snowflakes are no longer in your basement. If you get married and the annual summer cottage vacation doesn’t work anymore, you’re going to have to compromise on how to hit the cottage with your family but still do something else some summers. If you always make the same beef gravy that requires 4 days of simmering and stress, seriously, find a restaurant that will sell you small portions of it (and smuggle it in the back door if you have to). Sometimes you’ve just got to move along, people.
Not sure what started this deep thought today . . .I was eating lunch with Grandpa at his residence today. We talk often, but also sit in silence sometimes. That’s okay. The silence let me think of all the meals we’ve had together – alone, or extended family. Most of them because of my parents’ tradition of bringing us to Vancouver at Christmas and the summer. And the tradition of my grandpa and my uncle with family coming to Cranbrook each summer. And one I have carried on sporadically returning when I can.
I remember the time Grandpa dined and dashed from a local White Spot. (Can you believe it? We went back 3 hours later when he realized he hadn’t paid the bill. The manager was astonished)! How about that fancy BB Beltons dinner with the whole family once – my mom wore her white beaver fur coat, and my uncle told the waiter he didn’t wear socks because we couldn’t afford them after paying for the coat. The Christmas dinner when the “Turkey Protesters” sent open letters to the major grocers claiming they had injected the birds with poison (these letters really arrived). Despite doubts of how people could take a syringe of poison and inject a frozen turkey (FROZEN!!!) with it, Grandpa and I made an emergency run to IGA (who did not receive a poisoned turkey letter). The man drove like a lunatic trying to get one of the last turkeys in town and frightened me to death. He sent his soup back twice to have it heated up at Red Robin. (the third serving almost melted the spoon). The time with all of us at the temporary White Spot at Expo 86 when my uncle sent back his mushroom burger after eating more than half of it to say it didn’t have a PATTY! (um, how do you not notice that? The waiter was gobsmacked, my grandpa laughed for a week) The many meals Grandpa spent with our delighted cat under his chair sharing his steak. And who can forget when he swallowed the tab off a beer at lunch. He framed it. And, no I am not kidding on that one either.
Tomorrow lunch with my grandma (Dad’s mom). We’ll see what the day holds!
February 22nd, 2012 Extra-Ordinary Event: Holding my traditions – and the feelings they recall and the future they imbue – close.