Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Puddle Stomping. Because, MUD!

They say that the definition of crazy is the act of repeating the same behavior over and over, expecting a different outcome.

Sounds almost like the definition of tradition, where we repeat the same thing over and over, right? Except with traditions, we expect the same outcome repeatedly, as opposed to a different one.

Honestly, they both sound a little nutty.

But, I am a girl who likes tradition. Traditions - specifically family ones - make me feel warm and fuzzy, remind me of what it was like being a little girl in a huge family, and let me get excited for holidays and birthdays, as well as the wintertime in general (which, with my disdain for Oregon's rainy climate, is welcomed). Call me crazy, I like a good tradition.

Prime example? The Sauvie's Island pumpkin patch, where my family has spent a rainy, cold, weekend October morning since the dawn of time. Or at least since I can remember. Our parents would bundle us up, put us in our boots, and head all the way there, where we could check out the animal barn, maybe have some corn on the cob or a hot chocolate, and take a bumpy hay ride out to a field, where we got to pick out our perfect pumpkins. This has long been a favorite family tradition of mine, because it's one that kicks off the holiday season, and because my cousin Stacey and I always had such a great time together, planning the day (except those couple of years we hated each other's guts, but we just leave those days out).

When we were younger, the whole family would go, and we would always head back - wet and muddy - to BBQ at Grandma and Grandpa Stacey's house. We'd change into dry clothes, eat chips and hot dogs, and play in the back yard or climb the honey tree. Every year, we never missed it, and every year, it was my favorite thing about the fall. Stacey and I had a strange love of puddle stomping (okay technically we still do), and it seemed to be the one day that the whole family had nowhere else to be, so we could spend hours on end together.

Stacey and I have made an effort to continue this tradition into adulthood, even when it's just her and I. It's still a great day, always. The past few years, it's ended up being just us and Blake, her parents and my mom, and we've continued to enjoy our cold, wet, muddy days in the animal barn and on the tractor ride. And it has continued to be my favorite fall tradition - one that Blake and I talk about, because I hope he has the same love for it.

Blake has been to the pumpkin patch exactly four times in his three years of life. The first year, we tried a new patch; he was a newborn and I spent the day with him in the front pack (I love to wear babies), and the way he now describes this trip is, "that day I throwed up on you, auntie." The next year, we went back to Sauvie's Island, because we missed it; and at about 14 months old, he came running from the barn and for the first time, shouted "VERONICA!!" And then proceeded not to say it again for about a year. Last year, I bought him a bag of popcorn the size of his whole body and said he could carry it but to wait to open it until we were in the car - he dumped half of it in the mud after not listening to me. And this year, on the tractor ride, he says "This sure is bumpy...if we all off, do you think they'll leave us here??" I love seeing the way he enjoys it, and the way he remembers things from the year before - he remembers there was an animal barn and a tractor from the year before, and I love it.

I am a girl who likes a good tradition. But I am learning that what I really like the best about those traditions, is feeling like I have a complete family, a place where I am always loved and supported and taken care of, and a group of people who want to make an effort to be together. I appreciate so much that my mom's family still has that - it doesn't happen as often, and there are sometimes people who have to miss it, but overall, we still all make that effort to be together, to be laughing and having fun, and to be a family. I am just so eternally grateful for my mom and her family, my cousins and their babies, and my role in our big, loud, fun family unit.

So, today (and most days) I am thankful for the traditions I grew up with, the ones that were important to me as a kid that are still important to me now, the ones that change a little over time, the ones that stay exactly the same, and the ones that are starting out as new ones. Happy Thanksgiving to the family I love the very most!