“Traditions bring people together,” declared a 7th grade student in my 5th period class. We were sitting in large squarish circle. Our first Socratic Seminar together. All 30 of us shoulder to shoulder; a total fire hazard, gathered to discuss “The Lottery”. I listened to each response about why people love traditions and yet how they can allow us to get so comfortable that challenging them becomes arduous.
The sun flooded our classroom from the ceiling height windows. I let go of my responsibility briefly to reflect on my own traditions. At the start of this year, I half joking, mostly seriously stated to a friend that I plan to focus on my identity as a writer. Teaching has to be just a job to. It can’t take over my life. I really want to write more this year. She smiled and nodded. Then, I declared that to further my motivation; I plan to go to my aunt’s beach house once a month to write. She sat up and said that sounds awesome. At the start of school, we looked at our calendars and set the date for our writing weekend which you should know, I’ve planned to do for over a year know. However, thanks to adult schedules and honestly not making it a priority in my life, I kept pushing off.
We left on Friday after school and arrived later that night. With us, we brought our writing tools, a plan for a luxurious breakfast, and complete freedom. Saturday morning we woke and started what already felt like our tradition–I made insanely strong tea. P made hash. I set up our chairs facing the sun in dining room. She toasted the English Muffins. I scrambled a few eggs. After a long wait for the hash to cook to perfection, we piled our plates with food and sat next to each.
I looked into the sunlight and remember tasting each piece of visual and sound memory soft in the moment. I didn’t want it to end. I was peace. I was free. I had not one thought on my mind. Jessie Ware’s “Wildest Moments” filled the room. Hungry and grateful, we ate in silence. We had only done this once before, but it felt like we had done this all our lives. It felt special, old, new. It was comfortable.
Without intention, without planning (which is a surprise coming from me!), we fell into a tradition of eggs, English Muffins with Nutella, hash and tea.
As the holiday season begins and I fill up on cozy, it is clear that I am complete cheese-ball who is in love with holiday traditions. Nothing makes me feel more full that this season. From the Autumn leaves chasing each other in our cul de sac to roasting marshmallows in our fire pit. From raking leaving in the front yard and inhaling that dampness that only leaves emit to sitting in front of my fireplace dreaming.
Indeed tradition brings people together, but it allows me to go back to my childhood. It transports to me to a magical time when I experienced all this for the first time as a ten-year old in my Aunt’s yard and my cousin’s tree house. And sure all of it has been over commercialized and could represent so many negative aspects of our society, but all of it dims when the first trick or treaters arrive at my door step for the first time since I moved out my parents’ home. It dims further when I sit late into the night around the fire pit making another s’more.
All my life, friends and family members alike have reminded me that life is not like the movies. Movies are not real, blah, blah, blah. This year, I can see that my life is more and more like a movie! It’s filled with these magical traditions; ones that could easily be misinterpreted as trite or cliche. But let me make it clear that trite and cliche is a cozy place to live.
Yes, traditions bring people together, but more than that they are enchanting, serene, and addictive.