Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Peek at our Tradition

            Every family has its own traditions.  The little things that remain the same each year and remind us that there are certain things that can be counted on despite the uncertainties that we face when we walk out the front door each day.  Within the walls of our homes, surrounded by the families we've been given or the families we've created, our traditions bind us to that which is safe and familiar.  That which is home.  And since I spill my guts to y'all all the time, I thought maybe I'd let someone else do the talking this time.  And that someone else is my 18 year old brother, Scott, who wrote this essay for his high school English class last year.  I think it sums it all up pretty well.  (And for those of you who read this excerpt last year in our Christmas card, sorry for the repeat!)

Scott Ball
Period 7
Slice of Life Memoir

            Being the fourth of four children, I have seen my siblings mature and grow and move away from home for bigger and better things.  Although I remain at home with my parents, there is seldom a time where all six of us are gathered together at home again.  Once a year, however, all of my siblings and I are lucky enough to be at home with our parents to catch up and enjoy one another’s company.  At Christmas time, my family seems to go back in time about ten years.  Each child naturally assumes his or her respective role in the family as if no one had ever left.  My eldest sister, Katie, acts as the motherly coordinator of anything and everything that the rest of us do and say.  The second eldest, Julie, becomes the social comedian that keeps everyone laughing.   Finally, my brother Andy and I constantly argue about nothing, and compete to prove who is the alpha-male, when in fact we wouldn’t know what to do without one another.  It is at this special time of year when we can all be together and truly be ourselves.

            My family spends the Christmas holiday by upholding old traditions with extended and immediate family, all of which make it easy to forget one’s problems and simply live in the moment.  These traditions range from big to small, important to insignificant.  Like potato soup on Christmas Eve or sitting on the front steps in age-ascending order on Christmas morning, as we await the presents that lie under the tree in the living room.  Or watching claymation Christmas movies in the days leading up to the big holiday, slowly setting the mood and getting into the Spirit. 

            Yet, there is one simple tradition that seems to stand out above the rest – a tradition that encompasses the morals and values of my family on a very subtle wavelength.  It is a ritual that may appear to a visitor as immature and silly, but feels just right to us.  After savoring every last drop of Katie’s potato soup, saying goodbye to our cousins, and getting home from the 11:00 church service, the six of us take our places on a small couch next to the tree – one that is probably meant to seat two.  Huddled on top of one another like little kids, sit a 25 year-old teacher, a 23 year-old graduate student, a 19 year-old college sophomore, and a 17 year-old high school junior.  Between us, sit our two parents.  As we sit scrunched together on the unforgiving small couch, my dad reads The Polar Express aloud.  You may be thinking how weird we are, acting like we are toddlers rather than coming of age young adults.  But this is tradition, and it is bigger than a simple picture book.

            For anyone familiar with the story, the Polar Express emphasizes imagination, faith, and friendship discretely intertwined with a plot that any young child would salivate over.  As the main character ventures to the North Pole aboard a fantastical dream-train, the four kids and two parents lose themselves in the story, and in one another’s company.  A small statement, that no matter what is going on at work or school, no matter how far away we live from one another, or no matter how old we get, some things will never change.  A small 15 minute activity never meant so much.  For that short amount of time, as we laugh and joke, and enjoy the story, we are simply and perfectly happy.

            With this in mind, my family has granted me the invaluable opportunity to venture out into the world and take risks, for at the end of the day I can always come home to those who love me.  It is the small things such as this that shape my personality and actions on a day to day basis, and in turn, mold me into the person that I have become today.

If you hung in there for that long...thanks for reading!  Merry Merry!

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