Traditions: we’ve all got ‘em. They might be family dinners on special occasions, or having a particular kind of cake on your birthday (Jeanne Cake, natch), or popcorn at the movies, or meeting your friend for a 5k run in the park, rain or shine, every Sunday morning. What are your favorite traditions, large and small? What is it about your traditions that keep them going strong for you?
Traditions are strange whether you enjoy them, agree with them, are shun them you somehow recall them fondly and miss them. They sometimes bring feelings of contentment and warmth. Traditions don’t require creativity, they are merely the expectation that the heart desires.
My mother used to prepare a cranberry relish at all family gatherings. It was sweet, tart and flavorful. As a youngster I hated it. The recipes is now locked away in the mind of my 100 year old mother. And she wouldn’t give it up if she could, but now I long for it.
My short story today deals with a father and son, a generation a part, but coming together. I hope you enjoy.
“What college were you thinking about going to when you were eighteen?’ Junior said.
“It was a different day,” Paul said. “College wasn’t even on my mind.”
“Right,” Junior said. “You were in the Army first. What was it like being eighteen and going into the Army?”
“It was a terrible day, son,” Paul said. “I raised my right hand and in an instant I was a soldier. I was eighteen years old. Before I was nineteen I was someplace else and taking orders to kill an enemy. I didn‘t understand any of it.”
“You had to grow up real fast,” Junior said.
“No matter what they say, you don’t,” Paul said.
“They were desperate times,” Junior said.
“Insane times,” Paul said. “It delays being an adult. Aiming a rifle at another human and shooting is not an adult decision or action.”
“Did you ever…” Junior said.
“I aimed high,” Paul said. “Not much of a soldier.”
“I’m glad,” Junior said. “And proud. They say that real soldiers never talk about the lives they take.”
“That’s what they say,” Paul said. “Now where did you say you wanted to go to college?”
“Where would you have like to have gone, Dad?” Junior said.