Tradition – a big word. To me it usually entails a family activity or event like Christmas stockings hung on Christmas Eve. Tradition literally is the handing down of customs or beliefs from one generation to the next. If you read the various definitions of tradition it points to beliefs, customs, or the way of doing something that has existed for a long time.
But tradition, to me, can be defined as something special we do routinely today. It can be handed down from one generation to another or it can be something we started on our own – a new tradition. Just like the one my sister I started a few years ago traveling from Indianapolis to southern Indiana every October.
Each year we head out on a Saturday or Sunday morning and do not get back until evening. Some years it is freezing cold, other years the fall colors are in their prime, and other years, like this year, the weather is in the low 80s with a nice cool breeze. A perfect day to take the trek down and back to southern Indiana.
The main purpose of this annual trip is to visit the graves of our parents, grand-parents, the aunt I was named after, and many other extended family members. We usually take something to put on the five main graves – a flag, a rose, something. It is hard to believe our parents both are gone and even harder to believe it has been 4 years for our mother and 21 years for our father. But they are buried in a beautiful peaceful cemetery and we were lucky enough to hear the church bells chime while there.
Another purpose is to get a hamburger and milkshake at The New White Steamer in Washington, Indiana. When we were kids and lived there roughly a year, we would walk over to get waxed paper wrapped hamburgers and french fires for dinner for the family. We loved those walks down Main Street and loved our house and our grandparents’ home. Special times. It is nice to see how Main Street is changing for the better each time we visit.
Another purpose is to pick up pumpkins for Halloween. We found the Etienne’s Farm Market by accident on one trip and now must stop there for the beautiful pumpkin variety each year. I always buy more pumpkins than planned but enjoy them thru the Fall.
And the last purpose always is to stop on the way back at Graham’s Farm in Elnora, Indiana to get the best Colby cheese ever. We would travel there as kids from Washington or stop in there when visiting our grandparents. But we always had to stop for Colby cheese and if anyone in the family dared to be in the general area and not bring Colby cheese back for the rest of the family, they got coal in their stockings for Christmas.
This year Graham Cheese closed their little store we were so fond of and they moved their inventory to a Dutch Pantry in Odon, In. But that location does not have the charm or the memories of the Graham Cheese original location. We liked going to the same place our parents and grandparents shopped in. It was the same store our parents loved – it had the same floor our grandparents walked on. That was the point. It wasn’t necessarily the Colby cheese – it was the tradition. And now unfortunately this tradition – as small as it may seem – is over.
So….sometimes traditions may have end points. I am sure there have been many traditions that have stopped through the years for one reason or another. But when they do, those traditions become memories. Nothing can take away the memories we have of times in that quaint little cheese shop. The memories of our grandparents, our parents, and of us taking our children and reminiscing. And we can continue to smile remembering.
I love the annual trip tradition Misty and I started a few years ago. We notice the changes in the landscapes along the way and reminisce on memories. Sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming driving on the same roads we traveled on as kids with Mom & Dad or in Grandma & Grandpa’s car heading to the farms or to dinner or to Indianapolis. But mostly it is a comforting day remembering those great traditions that are now wonderful warm memories.