Monday, August 16, 2010
Every summer we trek up to the middle of Maine to our friends' summer lake house for a weekend with friends, water escapades, card games, campfire fun and cocktails. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it is too windy, sometimes it is chilly and sometimes it is perfect. But it is always a fun tradition where moments are captured and new memories are made.
Growing up, my dad's family had a tradition of renting a beach house on Myrtle Beach a week or two in the summers and the entire family would gather together to reconnect, play and grow up. We didn't live anywhere near South Carolina, having become "Damn Yankees" as my grandfather always teased. But we made that looooong drive down in the summer whenever the family got their act together with a rental. Living so far away from everyone else, it was the only time I got to spend more than a day or two with all of my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. I loved those days at the beach. And I attribute my continued close relationships with my cousins to the effort my folks made to keep us connected through the years.
I feel the same way about our Maine weekends now. Or the holiday party our other friends have each December. The football playoff party other friends have each January. The bi-annual pumpkin carving party another set of friends organizes. The Falmouth Road Race weekends Andy's aunt always hosts. The annual PGA golf tournament weekend we spend with my family in Connecticut. The backyard ice rink Superbowl party our neighbor hosts.
These recurring traditions that we attend throughout the years help to keep us in touch with lots of people we don't otherwise see on a regular basis. Sometimes the same circle of friends and family appear at many of them. But other times, it is the only time we get to gather with a particular group. In the past we have tried to host BBQ's over Labor Day weekend - it coincides with lots of birthdays, anniversaries and vacation plans though. They are fun ways to get ALL of our different circles together at once and maybe we'll throw another one again this year.
This coming winter, the torch has been passed to us in Andy's family to host Christmas Eve celebrations. Logistically and space-wise our home just makes more sense now than his aunt's house where the evening has always been held. It means the start of something new - because we are hosting now we won't be driving off to Connecticut anymore to see my family. So they will need to come to us. A combining of both families will be a lot of fun. But new traditions mark the end of cherished ones that laid the groundwork and that can be sad sometimes.
Creating new traditions is a fun process though. Be it a barbeque, a holiday dinner or a weekend away with friends to escape the madness - traditions are important. Sometimes you don't even realize they've become a tradition until you stop and think about it for a while. The ones that just became a part of your life because you love them, not because you planned them. Those are the best traditions of all.