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Traditions

B.C. (Before Children), G and I would wake up on a beautiful spring or fall weekend morning and decide to drive down to the Cape for the day. Crossing over the Sagamore Bridge, I would exhale and feel like I was crossing into another world. We would stop at a shack, pick up lobster rolls, and stop randomly at antique shops and then at a beach to breathe in some salt air.

When the kids were older and past their carseat-despising phase, we packed them up and did the same with them. (Albeit with a little more of a plan and destination, as anyone with kids know that spontaneity does not usually work.)

G spent many childhood vacations on the Cape with his family and some family friends. They all speak so fondly of their time there, and I always love hearing the nostalgia in their voices when they share some of their stories.

A friend of ours, C, has a gorgeous lakeside cabin in the Midwest — picture Dirty Dancing without the dancing or the dirty or anyone named Baby in a corner. The cabin is located on a rustic ‘resort’ amongst other decades-old log cabins. The home has been in C’s family for about 80 years, and is one of our favorite places to be. B.C., our friend (actually, G’s friend from college but oh ho, did I luck out — mostly because C and his wife are fantastic, but dude, the cabin is AWE-some) hosted an annual get-together for his friends. During those trips, everyone woke up at their leisure (usually just in time to run to the Clubhouse before last call for breakfast), attended to their various activities-du-jour (golf, pool, tennis, naps in the hammock), then, as evening approached, cleaned up and dressed for cocktail hour, usually held in the backyard or at another cabin. Following dinner at the Clubhouse: several rounds of ring toss on the porch. Then back to the house for wardrobe changes and more hanging out. Finally, a walk down to the local bar for the best late-night burgers ever known to man, between rounds of darts, shuffleboard, and pool.

Really, the best way to spend a vacation. Laid-back, mellow...Nothing is taken too seriously, and it’s incredibly relaxing and fun.

Over Labor Day weekend, we were invited again with the kids. We were excited to bring them and show them around for the first time. They, of course, loved it. They could have spent the whole time running around in circles on the tennis courts and been happy, but they loved all of it. Of course, it was a different speed of vacation for us, but it was still a lovely time, as always.

During this visit, just like other visits, I looked around and took in the tradition of it all. Everyone is respectful of the legacy of the resort and the families there. Being there with the kids made me appreciate the legacy of it even more. The first time we ever visited, C showed us around, telling us stories about growing up and his summers spent there. I can’t wait to hear about C’s children experiencing the same; tying their stories with his and sharing their heritage there.

It also made me think a lot about the traditions in my own family, and in G’s, and the traditions we will pass on to our own kids. Some small (like teaching my kids to wrap keem (nori/seaweed) around their rice with their chopsticks just like my mom taught me) and some bigger (like taking our kids on trips to the Cape). Hopefully someday, G can show them some of the places he spent as a kid (the location of the drive-in where he saw Jaws, the small town where he dropped ice cream down a stranger’s back, the beach where he and the boys would build forts around the fiddler crabs and pretend they were prison guards...)

The idea of passing on our own experiences — is this dorky? — excites me. These are some of the other ‘traditions’ I remember from my childhood:

* One brave uncle taking all us kids (I have a lot of cousins) on annual pilgrimages to Six Flags in the summer, and occasionally, on ski trips in the winter. So Much Fun. (That was back when we never wore seatbelts and we used cars as clown cars, fitting 10+ of us in at a time.)

* That same brave uncle taking us to the beach and listening to Michael Jackson on his eight-track in the same packed car.

* Meeting my best friend halfway between our houses at the huge rock on the side of the street. (Also back before I WILL NEVER LET MY ELEMENTARY-AGE KIDS WALK ANYWHERE BY THEMSELVES.)

* On Christmas Eve day, getting tickets for a Broadway play at the last minute (because in my family, no one does anything with any forethought and part of our tradition was to plan it at the last minute anyway) and going into the City for dinner and a show.

* My parents and my aunts and uncles meeting at a Korean restaurant every week in the City for lunch.

I suddenly feel old when these memories that used to just be a part of my life are now looked back on with nostalgia and a determination to somehow fit them into life with my own kids.

Are there traditions from your childhood that you try to incorporate into your kids’ lives now?

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