When I was younger and went to summer camp for 8 weeks at a stretch, my dad used to send me an annual Bastille Day letter. Even after camp, once we both had email, he resumed the annual Bastille Day missives for a while. The letters, emails and cards stopped years ago. And This is not the first Bastille Day without him. However, I don’t think I will ever make it through a Bastille Day without thinking of him. Not that I would want to.
This is the first Bastille Day since we entered the adoption pool and it led me to wonder what kind of off-beat rituals my kid will associate with me after I am gone. I know that my dad would be amused to learn that this particular quirk has stuck with me for so long. Just as he would be pleased to know that both my brother and I scored very highly on the vocabulary test making its way around Facebook these days.
As the wife, sister and daughter-in-law of rabbis, I really do understand the importance of ritual in life. I also know that it is particularly important when raising children. But what intrigues me most (at least at the moment) are the family-specific rituals.
We recently returned from our annual week in lake Placid with David’s father’s side of the family. One of the highlights of this annual trip is playing Milles Bornes with my nieces. It took about 15 minutes after we all arrived for the younger of the two to go grab the box from the playroom. And it was in heavy rotation for the duration.
I like playing Milles Bornes (which is good because it is not an exaggeration to say that not a day goes by during our annual visits without at least 5 hands being played). But it would never occur to me to buy it for myself because at this point Milles Bornes is inextricably linked to my nieces in my mind.
Each girl has an established style of play. Which only becomes an issue when the 3 of us play together (which is happening decreasingly often). And it should surprise none of you that I look forward to the day when I can integrate my child into the game (and someday their children as well, if they are so inclined).
It is possible that with time the girls will outgrow playing the game with me. They might decide that it isn’t cool to play games with an adult or they may simply decide that I am no longer cool enough for their time (one is a teenager and the other is just a few years away). I truly hope not. But even if they do, I hope that they eventually remember our ritual with fondness. And maybe, just maybe, if they become aunts themselves, decide to teach Milles Bornes to their nieces and nephews.