When I was young
I grew up in that age of development when the internet began to spread its web around the wide world. In 6th grade, I spent hours online at my aunt’s house reading poetry from the earliest forms of blogs. In 7th grade, I entered chatrooms. In 8th grade, we had the internet in our domain, our home. It was not until after college that I entered the social media age, sold on the idea that Facebook would help me to stay connected with classmates students living in the state where I no longer resided.
As a stay-at-home-mother, I joined the many women who learned from each other, stayed connected and sane during the wee hours of baby soothing and cuddling with other mothers, feeling a sense of community where our in-person community was lacking.
Living our virtual life
Years passed. Now, for my age group and younger, it feels like everything is online. I, and the mothers like me, began to learn on our own that, ultimately, social media is unsatisfying. It cannot stand in for real relationships or real community support. We mothers began to look elsewhere.
If any were under the impression six months ago that virtual connection held that promise, I suspect that now, so many months later, the illusion is breaking up.
A Zoom date does not hold the same quality as an in-person day, virtual is not the same as real. We are flesh and blood and unless we can interact in the flesh, a part of us is not engaged. The connection is less than it could be. Like letter writing and telephone calls, something is missing, only it was harder to realize it in this medium.
This discovery makes for hard decisions as we continue to live this modern pandemic, socially distant lifestyle. How will we cope?
Seeing one’s friends is not nearly as superficial as it was made to sound in March. Community matters. Connection matters. What we do in-person matters.
In our communities, there have always been certain traditions. In Hughson, there are many. Most of them were postponed or canceled in the face of the then-unknown risks of Coronavirus. Over summer people began to find their way. As fall began, I observed discussions relating that some questioned what they were willing to sacrifice and what they were will to not.
“Is Halloween canceled this year?”
Canceled. A term now used as slang to mean “no longer allowed, no longer in vogue, verboten, out of commission, no longer something we will endure.”
Events can be canceled. People and traditions cannot.
In this time of continuing uncertainty (will we reopen? Will we have to wait longer? What will reopening look like?) more than ever we need to hold fast to the traditions handed on to us. They are bigger than a bag of candy out of a trunk or pictures with Santa.
Now more than ever
We need to make the choice not to be guided by the storms around us, but to find the thing that anchors us to where we are, where our home is, who we have been and who we want to become.
The traditions matter because they speak not just to what is fun, not just to the overwhelming marketing of big business in a capitalistic society, but they connect us to the generations that came before us, the generations that come after us and a culture filled with individuals celebrating likewise.
Joined together with these traditions, we sense something bigger than ourselves at work. Something real, although abstract. Something transcendent, yet as ordinary as an annual holiday.
How we observe these traditions differs. It differs between families, religions, and over the years. This year will be no exception. But the importance remains.