Monday, April 20, 2009

Little-Old Me

There's this strange feeling of déjà vu; or maybe it’s just the idea that “what goes around" truly does come around; a moment of seeing yourself in some sort of Benjamin-Button way—looking with old eyes and middle-aged perspective at a younger, sillier, more whimsical version of yourself. At any rate, however you want to define it, being the Mom of a precocious, earnest, purposeful little toddler I'm hit with these moments about 29 times a day.

Sometimes it’s profound (or at least I like to think so). Other times it’s touching. Sometimes it’s a bit unsettling (“oops, don’t want her to be like me in that way … ouch!)

This weekend, it was just pure fun. We came home from 4-days in Dallas to find our little girl’s imagination had quadrupled in size. Her current fancy: baby dolls. And so, at the end of our grocery shopping this weekend (given of course that we were in our new Super Wal-Mart where I can buy hummus and car batteries in one fell swoop), we headed to the toy aisle and purchased …

A Cabbage Patch Newborn™

Her name is Paula (not a terribly "baby like" name; my doll as a kid was named Linda. Who names these things may I ask?) We are calling her Baby Polly. Sydney loves her, very much.

Now, back in the day my sister and I wanted Cabbage Patch dolls soooooo bad. Oh my goodness, it was intense. And in the mid-1980s, the 30 dollar price tag was more than steep. But one magical day, this enormous box arrived from my Grandma Joan in Michigan. And there were our dolls. It was totally great. So, I have to admit, I felt pretty cool selecting Sydney's first Cabbage Patch Kid (and yes, I held up option, and the winner was the box she decided to lick.)

So here’s to the next few precious year’s when Sydney will be happy and content to dream and play “in the nursery”. I wish I could let her stay little forever. But something tells me, I’m going to really love the girl, teenager (yes, teenager), young woman, and grown woman this child is working to become.

Friday, April 10, 2009

what makes tradition

tra * di * tion

1 a: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom)

2: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction

One day, Sydney will recall that Good Friday means a quiet morning at home. Reading from God's Word. Shopping for Easter shoes with Grandma. Dyeing eggs with Mommy to hide for Sunday morning. Waiting for Daddy to be home from midday church, and going together to evening church.

One day, Sydney will know without being told that Easter means more than candy and Peeps and chocolate rabbits; and is even more than her beautiful basket with its personalized butterfly fabric liner.

One day, Sydney will hopefully think back fondly on moments with her parents and grandparents on special holy-days like these. Just as I recall handmade dollies from my Grandmother. And hunting for Easter baskets with my sister. And new dresses. And beautiful music at church. And singing in the school chorus for those daybreak services. Delicious suppers prepared by my Dad. Warm Missouri sunshine and family time.

And maybe, she'll work to recreate those feelings and experiences and attitudes and conversations with her own family. That's the beauty of tradition.

Tradition means that even though I am far from my sister this Easter, I can guess how she is celebrating and probably even how she's feeling. I can picture how my Aunt and Uncle are contemplating all the blessings of the Lord. I know how my parents will greet Easter with a “He is Risen” at the house on Norwich Street, even though Kate and I are grown and gone.

I think quite a bit about the importance of tradition. I always have been particularly aware of how things were and are and "should" be. But now, especially as a parent, I want to take careful note of how we create moments—both everyday and special-day. More than ever, I see how all of the experiences of my own childhood created this incredible reservoir of memory, values, faith, and significance. I want Sydney to have a similarly deep pool from which to draw.

So what creates tradition? It’s more than just doing the same things year after year; it’s how you do what you do. It’s creating rituals of action that are meaningful, and because they are meaningful, they become memorable and worthy of being passed along—often embellished and recollected warmly with the generosity that time lends to most old stories. Experiences become lasting when they are reinterpreted and re-imagined by the next generation—and usually they aren’t done exactly the same way as in years past. But it's when the spirit of the doing stays intact that traditions are made.

So here’s to traditions, past or present—those patterns of thought inherited over time make us who we are, and I—for one—am awfully glad they do.