As soon as tradition has come to be recognized as tradition, it is dead. - A. Bloom

December 3, 2010

Evan in the Woods
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
Every Thanksgiving weekend, since before you were born, we have a tradition. My mother, Josh and I (and now E with us) go walking through the woods at the farm where I grew up and gather greens to decorate my mother's house. In a typical year we'll haul home two small trees and three or four 55 gallon bags full of assorted greenery.

This year I did not want to go. An enormous project at work had taken over (quite literally) every waking moment of my life in the week prior to Thanksgiving, and over Thanksgiving weekend we had a houseguest and multiple family gatherings to attend. By Sunday, our scheduled day, I wanted nothing more than to stay late in bed, then just putter for the day. To be in control of my own schedule and my own life.

I think often that its the loss of control that is the hardest part of parenting for me. For the first two years of E's life all I wanted and wished for was to wake up at a time of my own choosing, as my body clock chose, rather than waking up to an alarm or (more often) the sound of someone crying. Now that E is older I've adjusted to the whole sleep thing (I still only very rarely get to wake up at a time of my own choosing, but at least now I'm awakened by kisses rather than wailing, which is an improvement), but I miss being able to come and go as I please. Sometimes I just want ice cream at 10 pm, but if I'm the only adult home there isn't any way to get it. Or to just go our after work and run a few errands, which I could do, but then it becomes a choice between doing what I want and spending precious awake hours with my son, and unless its something urgent my son always wins.

So, Sunday the last thing in the world I wanted to do was walk in the woods. But away we went.

The Farm (as we simply call it) is the house I grew up in. I played in these woods as a child no older than E is (I shudder to think of it. I wouldn't allow him to play in these woods at this age. But there I was, climbing across beaver dams and climbing trees a half mile from the house at four or five years of age.), and that land continues to be one of the few places where I am calm and at peace. We still own the property -- tenants live there now, the current family has a boy just E's age who was super curious about him and kept waving from the window whenever he caught a glimpse of us - and I still nurture a forlorn hope that some day my family will move there and live there. (Unlikely, as my husband is quite literally too tall for the house. He has to duck going through every doorway.)

One of the reasons we have traditions, I believe, is to center us, and to give us checkpoints to reorient our lives. Of course you know the moral of this story already - we had a terrific day clomping through the woods, a peaceful day, a day to watch hawks circle and talk about what beavers do in the winter. We made pizza with my mother and looked at photos of me as a child. And by the time it was time to go home I was actually recharged, and ready for another week.

Good thing, too, since this week has been full of more 14 hour days, compounded by E getting sent home from preschool on Wednesday morning with conjunctivitis and an ear infection.

Somehow, though, just looking at the photos of him in the forest seems to center me again.