When I was growing up, I was lucky to have a wonderful and supportive family behind me every step of the way. I feel like without them and the beliefs and values they taught me I wouldn’t be anywhere near the person I am today. From my mom I’ve learned hard work and how to get by on just a little, which while it sounds horrible to say that, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Hey, I can make less than £100 stretch for a month (I’m doing it right now)! I’ve also learned devotion from my mom in the way she recently stuck by her partner through 80-some odd days in the hospital. From my grandparents I’ve learned to stick up for what I believe in and not to let anyone tell me how to live my life but me. From my family as a whole I’ve learned patience, forgiveness and most of all, unconditional love.
They’ve also taught me the importance of tradition–whether they realize it or not. Tradition is the anchor in our lives and when all else fails, we know that whatever tradition we have we’ll be sticking to it. I’m not talking just holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving here… though they are fantastic, traditional holidays. No, I mean the little traditions–things that your family do that stick with you so much that even when you’re on your own 4,000 miles away you still find yourself doing them. There are so many little traditions I remember and hold onto for myself like: broccoli with cheese casseroles at family dinner; taking photos of everything; turning the sound off of the television while watching KY basketball and turning on the radio to hear the play by play calls and so many others.
Take this morning for example. It’s a Saturday morning, I’m up early going to work, and what do I have for breakfast? Doughnuts. That’s a tradition right there–Saturday morning doughnuts.
My granddad worked third shift at a hospital in my hometown when I was younger. We’d pick him up one of two places in the wee early hours: the bus stop not too far from home or from outside the hospital itself in the city. No matter where we picked him up from, every Saturday we stopped at the Iroquois Bakery (which I think is now gone) and bought doughnuts. One of the most vivid memories I have of the bakery was how white and light it was. I suppose after being out in the dark of the early hours anywhere would be really bright but for whatever reason I remember this place being exceptionally bright. I always got to put a quarter in the little toy machine or sticker machine and afterwards granddad and I admired the gorgeous cakes on the slowly rotating display stand. We’d “oooooh” and “aaaaaahhh” and “mmmmm” (or the occasional “yuck!” from me) at all of the creations on offer. (I secretly dreamed of buying one of those cakes one day, maybe even for my birthday, but it never happened.)
The doughnuts themselves were tradition–I always had a raspberry jelly-filled glazed doughnut and a chocolate “long-john” with no creme. Always… I never deviated from those two. After getting the box of doughnuts we’d emerge back out into the slowly brightening outside world and into the headlights of the (I think) Buick that my memom drove. But there was one more stop to make! Granddad always bought the newspaper from the stand outside the bakery–one of those “correct change only” jobs that you put your coins into, pulled the release lever and got your paper out of. My little sister L and I always fought to be the one to put the change in–though a lot of weeks I got lucky because she was only little and a lot of times she’d be asleep in the car–or she’d be at her dad’s for the weekend.
So whenever I’m up early and heading to work on a Saturday morning, which is pretty common, I stop at the Tescos near the station and buy two doughnuts–one raspberry jelly-filled doughnut and one chocolate ring doughnut. Sadly, they don’t have long-johns here.
I hope that when I grow up and have children (ha ha) I can instill the significance of tradition in them as well–even if it’s just little things like doughnuts on a Saturday morning. I think in life it’s probably the little things that make the most difference, the little things that often make us the happiest. Even if the little things bring just the tiniest bit of joy, it’s still joy, isn’t it?
X – S