Local Tradition

Thanksgiving is coming.

That means all kinds of traditions, a lot of them very very local and intimate to one’s own family.

My family has a tradition of grated carrots in green Jell-O. Another family I know has a tradition of special potato salad. It’s part of how we’ve learned to celebrate.

My town has a unique thanksgiving festival. A retirement community founded by the church which traces it’s beginning to the Pilgrims –called Pilgrim Place–had a big festival every year.

It’s become our tradition to go, and locally it is a very big event. It’s the sort of big event that no one else knows about, except the people who go.

The pilgrims of Claremont–retired missionaries, pastors, and professors–they prepare a party for the whole community based on their traditions. Their memories and culture are passed on. The pilgrims are definitely influenced by the sixties, and pass on the hippie culture to us all.

For the kids, they have a thing called the “glue-in”. Like a sit-in or a love-in from those days of flowers in your hair, these pilgrim grandparenty people set aside all kinds of bottles and lids and random debris. They wash it, and keep it for this special day.

They cut cardboard rectangles and put out small pots of glue. The children are invited to sit at tables outside and make something–whatever they like! –with the glue and objects.

My husband remembers making these as a child. I have taken Veronica to do this every year of her life.

One day she will not want to do it anymore. I know this.

But this year, that was all she talked about as we drove to the pilgrims.

“Do you want to make a glue-in, Mommy?”

I’d never made one. I’d always assisted. Veronica’s glue-ins were always trying to be as tall as she could make them, and there were some laws of construction that she didn’t really have down.

But who knows? This might be the last glue in.

“Yes, I will make one with you!”

I got my pot, and the pilgrim was happy for me to make one too. We flipped through the piles of building material for our work of art. There were a lot of clear empty prescription bottles.

We set about seeing what could be done with these objects. She was very serious, and I was curious about what I might be able to do with these.

She had come to a pause, trying to decide how to realize her vision. I had just about realized mine.

“What do you think of mine?”

She looked up, squinted her eyes at my structure.

She’s a tough critic. I didn’t know what she would have to say. She was the one with all the experience after all.

Her unpronounced judgment hung in the air.

“I really like it.” she declared.

I did not expect to be so pleased. It felt really really good that she approved.

I hope that is how she feels when I say the same to her.

These are our traditions, for however long they last.

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