Do you have food traditions?
Like always having the same turkey-and -pumpkin-pie on Thanksgiving? I do, and I'm beginning to realize just how deeply ingrained in me they are.
Yesterday I woke up in a funk. I felt all disconnected and chalked it up to a middle-of-the-night return from a trip, faced with big storm damage and child's lemonade stand to help prepare. The day was crazy busy, but I kept thinking of my grandfather.
His birthday was on the Fourth, and he always said with a twinkle in his eye and his Berenstein-Bear smile, that "His birthday was so important that the whole country got the day off to celebrate." When I was really little, I believed him.
We often gathered at his house for a cookout on his birthday, sometimes with cousins, sometimes not, sometimes just going there for a birthday party that night. We often watched fireworks from their porch or played with sparklers on the front sidewalk, twirling the glowing metal sticks and eagerly spelling our names with the lights.
I moved away 11 years ago tomorrow, and Pappy was sick by then. I didn't get to many birthday parties if they were held at that point, and he died a few years ago. But yesterday I was bothered by the fact that we weren't having a birthday party. The day just didn't feel right - whether we weren't celebrating the Fourth or Pappy's birthday or both, something about our yard-cleanup-and-lemonade-advertising tasks felt wrong.
So while at the grocery store stocking up on a few necessities, the kids and I hit up the ice cream and potato chip aisles. They were amazed that Mommy would buy both junk foods on the same day, but quickly forgot in the days busyness.
After the lemonade stand was closed, the fireworks viewed, and hot, sweaty people returned home, I broke out the leftover lemonade-stand cupcakes and the ice cream carton. I filled bowls with Moose Tracks and potato chips - just the way that Meme and I used to eat it - and the Big Helper eagerly added chocolate syrup and stirred it up, just the way that I used to do.
We ate chocolate cupcakes - with white icing instead of Pappy's favorite peanut butter - and talked about how much he would've liked the Big Helper's lemonade stand efforts; about how creative and hard working he was, having two side jobs of his own creation when his children were small. My Little Man wanted to know about his hunting abilities and what sorts of foods he liked to eat, and so we talked about all sorts of strange details until it was very late.
Snuggled into bed later, the Big Helper wanted to know more and had lots of questions. Some I knew the answers to, others I didn't, but it was fun to share my memories of a special man whom they won't remember.
After talking about Pappy and having wayyyy too much birthday party, I felt much better. That's what was missing all day - that long-held tradition of honoring my grandfather as we honored our country.
So while we don't have family nearby to picnic and celebrate Indendence Day with here, I think we'll have a new tradition: a birthday party celebration, complete with chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream and salty potato chips. Once a year won't hurt us - and it can certainly help us make some wonderful memories.
And important food traditions.