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Traditions under the moon

Today, Dawn wrote about the Chinese Mid Autumn Festival, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own childhood traditions. Fireworks on the Fourth of July were always a big thing, whether we set off our own in front of our house or drove up to Lexington to watch the big show from Doris’ farm, sprawled out in the back of a banged-up pickup truck. Dawn’s discussion of lanterns made me think of Woodhaven, where Granny and Aunt Carol used to live; they had strings of lights running along their trailer in the shape of Chinese lanterns, and I loved their bright colors lighting up the porch at night. I sat out there with my aunts and played board games, or watched over my baby cousins (who are now all teenagers!), or played house with the myriad collection of toys Granny kept in her outdoor tent in the yard. We rode bikes at Woodhaven, too, all around the narrow, winding roads. Woodhaven was a private retirement community, and there wasn’t much traffic. It was very rustic and peaceful there; it felt like a chosen, comfortable seclusion.

Summers are what I remember most from my childhood, because summer was always the time for adventures. Piling into the car to go to Uncle Lewis’ place on Lake Cumberland was one of my favorites, because we got to go swimming, climbing, picnicking, and exploring, and in the morning Uncle Lewis always made us his famous “greasy eggs”. I think I miss having his place to go to the most; I don’t have any real memories attached to Ma’s farm in Mt. Sterling, and there’s not much to do there. And of course, we always went to Illinois in the summer, whether to Woodhaven, or to Big Rock, or to Wilmette…but once my parents started the business, we weren’t able to all run off on jaunts anymore, and so the adventure chapter of my life was closed. I think maybe that’s why I didn’t mind driving eight hours to see Sean for a weekend…travel has been in my blood since I was little.

Christmas is another tradition I’ve had since childhood, but until we had the business it wasn’t a truly large affair for us. We typically went to Uncle Jeff and Aunt Karen’s house on Eastin Road in Lexington, a beautiful, large, stately house that I felt I could get lost in. Their tree was always splendid, with more gifts beneath it than I could count. Everyone brought food, and we all ate dinner and then exchanged presents. That tradition died off when people began realizing they couldn’t afford to buy presents for everyone, and now if we go anywhere it’s to Grandma’s for dinner, with no formal gift exchange. It’s nice, but it’s not the same. Our party at home is bigger and better, though, with lots of presents, and the little joy that is Connor running around brightening everything. This year, when Sean and I go to my parents’ for the holiday, there will be another little one to cuddle.

Traditions don’t really die; they just change. They’ve shaped who we are, and who we are shapes what we do.

Dawn also wrote today about how she finished up her festival day, a quiet, more muted celebration, tinged with melancholy. I know how it feels to be lonely on holidays. I think the song Dawn chose to quote at the end of her post was a wonderful choice, especially because it reminded me of something that happened yesterday.

Out of the blue, I decided to call Connor. I miss that little sweetie. We had a good conversation; he told me to come over to his house “tomorrow” but I said it would have to wait until Halloween. Then he asked me, “Can you see the moon?”

I went out on the deck and looked, and there it was, Mars hanging just below and to the right. “Wow,” I said, “it’s really orange, isn’t it?”

“Yeah!” Connor said. “And it has eyes and a nose and a mouth! But it doesn’t say anything.”

“The moon’s pretty quiet,” I agreed.

At that moment, I remembered the song, “Somewhere Out There”, from An American Tail…and so for me it was doubly delightful to have Dawn think of the same song for a completely different reason.

I miss everyone…but it is nice to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.