Annual Traditions Are Overrated (Day 8 of 31)
It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada (tomorrow, Monday, is our Thanksgiving Day), so most Canadians are figuring out the logistics and timing for their dinners—who’s bringing which side dishes, and whether they’ll have time to make a run to the farmer’s market for a pie. It’s in this context—one of feeling profoundly grateful for all the good stuff in our lives—that I’m thinking about annual traditions being overrated.
I’ve realized it’s not the traditions themselves I’m arguing with, here. It’s the pressure they can make us feel. Some traditions require that an enormous number of variables line up right; and if any of them are a bit off, everything goes haywire.
In terms of photography, trying to recreate a certain moment year after year carries the implicit expectation that all the tumblers are going to fall into place: light, weather, people, traffic, moods, finances, health. Far better to go with the flow and keep expectations realistic, I’ve concluded.
The first time my wife and I took our young daughter to see Santa, she was two. A big moment. Unfortunately, the child just ahead of her in line was yelling and hollering as if Santa’s cottage were a house of horrors. “Erica! Erica!” this child’s parents were urging her. “Sit up on Santa’s lap so we can get a picture!”
Blood-curdling screams. Erica seemed to have figured out that David Sedaris insight, that Santa is an anagram of Satan.
Meanwhile, our daughter, observing this scene with enormous concern, was very worried at the thought that she was up next. You could see her wondering what hell we had planned for her.
Our family talked about that outing for years (we still talk about it). This random kid, known to us as Baby Erica, achieved fame in our household and will never be forgotten. (When our own daughter got to see Santa at last, she was, unsurprisingly, cautious; but things went fine.)
Poor Erica, though. We had a lot of sympathy for what that child went through. Better, probably, if her parents had just called it quits and missed the photo. Some of them just aren’t worth it.
(For the month of October 2017, I’m participating in the 31 Days bloggers’ challenge. You can find out about it here, and check out the interesting work other bloggers are posting.)