As homecoming weekend draws to an end, I find myself thinking a lot about traditions. For many students, staff, and alumni, this weekend was one of the most exhilerating traditions of the year. Fans cheered the Golden Rams to victory in the cool atumn air. Alumni reminisced of days gone by and passed down advice to students on campus. The town bustled with the buzz of homecoming energy as restaurant employees hustled to keep up.
I also experienced a bit of tradition this weekend, though I was absent from the WCU homecoming festivities. My weekend started out with a long trip to visit my parents, which reminded me of another homecoming attribute: Penn State traffic, but eventually, I got there. Upon arrival, my mom and I cut, peeled, baked, smashed, stirred, and eventually ate several dozen apples as we made our family’s super secret, and even more delicious, homemade apple butter recipe. The smell of the apples cooking in my parents’ old victorian style home epitomized tradition for me.
The following day, I continued my weekend with yet another tradition, though a slightly newer one: a bachelorette party. Though the ironically shapped straws and lollipops stood in stark contrast to Mother’s kitchen, I found that in many ways, all three of these traditions: homecoming, cooking with Mom, and a bachelorette party, were grounded in similar principles. Traditions are not just things we do because we think we have to, or because we always have. No, in fact, traditions make us who we are. They define us, our values, and our entire way of life. They show us what is important in life.
Traditions are about spending time with people. This might mean going to a game and meeting new people from different paths of life and in doing so, expanding one’s own horizons. It might mean quality time with family, and reminding loved ones how much they mean to you. It might even mean just laughing with the girls and being there for someone else’s special day. No matter, traditions always mean making and strengthening relationships.
Though the sports editors may not appreciate me saying so, it would not really matter if the campus united over football or musical theater this past weekend, or even whether the team won or lost. What matters is that fans young and old, families, friends, and even strangers found a reason to unite together and celebrate life. That is what tradition is all about.
Before long, we will be coming up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the multitude of other traditions we enjoy each year. Remember to enjoy them with those around you and embrace the relationships in your life!