Tradition is conceived without planning

One of our family traditions is to tailgate before Auburn games. Food is themed according to who Auburn is playing. (Hot dogs when we play Georgia; pork bbq for Arkansas.) This just started at some point and has endured. (From left: my cousin, Lacy Sibley; me, with a bottle of champagne; my sister-in-law, Elaine Stivender.)

We had “Multimedia Night” tonight. We gave it a name so we’d remember to do it again in the future. Lily sat in my lap, her long legs folded mantis-style atop mine, folded in the Indian style. Two short torsos. Four long arms. Through blue eyes (hers) and hazel (mine), we watched music videos from Neko Case and Amos Lee. We looked at Facebook photos of my dad’s work in India, of her aunt and uncle’s vacation to Hawaii. We “liked”. We commented. We read blog posts aloud; she wanted to hear the ones I have written about her. We mixed “roots rock” and “slow blues” on Garage Band, a program she gets instinctively and I merely appreciate.We laughed a lot. When I said, “I love you, Pea,” she said, “I was just about to say the same thing.”

I’m reminded of times my mother and I would watch M.A.S.H. and Cheers reruns late at night. We’d fall asleep on the couch, me wedged awkwardly behind her with my head on her hip. I insisted she play with my hair. One night, I had a craving for grape juice. She said she did, too, and she made a late-night run to the grocery store to buy us some.

My daughter calls it “soothing” when I rub her back or comb my fingers through her hair. “Soothe me,” she says.

I must have called it that when she was little and it stuck, like “Multimedia Night” and the night with the grape juice.

My mom’s family takes “cocktail cruises” when they converge at my grandmother’s house on Lake Martin, Ala. I imagine there was one gorgeous spring evening, after the time change, when the setting sun made them all feel sentimental. Someone was cooking dinner (butter beans, field peas, squash casserole, corn bread) and someone else said, “Let’s take the boat out before we eat.” I’m making this up, but I can taste it – scotch, and smell it – lime. I can see the plastic stadium cups brought home from Auburn games. I can hear my dad laughing with my aunt.

These little family moments that click … they stick. An act of spontaneity becomes a memory and is given a name: Tradition.


6 thoughts on “Tradition is conceived without planning

  1. Knight’s storytelling never fails to move me. This one made me long for Weiser, Idaho and my Grandmother’s hammock.

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