I was trolling around my friends' Facebook pages the other day, and *ping!* Up pops a little blue window that says "So-and -so posted on your wall." Oh, really? "So-and-so" is actually my cyber-pal, The Duck (side note: I use aliases for my friends, just in case...).
Oh, Duck- this is why I asked you what I asked you the other day.
Anyway, The Duck had asked about my opinion of candy corn. DUH. It is one of the four major food groups. And I answered her that one of my favorite fall treats is candy corn mixed with cocktail peanuts (Planter's Cocktail Peanuts only, definitely NEVER dry roasted): "It is like a fluffernutter without the bread," is what I replied. I also told her that I didn't allow myself said treat until the calendar read October 1st.
Truth #3: For being such a proponent of live-in-the-moment-ism and new-adventures-ism, I cling very tightly to certain self-made rituals, which cannot and will not be ignored or altered. It is probably an amateur form of OCD, but when you grow up in the Catholic church (and then find out you have some Jewish lineage, too), your life revolves around ritual whether you like it or not.
For your enjoyment (or, for your information, so you know when to avoid my craziness. Or better yet, so you can indulge your need for observing craziness in motion), I've put together a calendar of rituals I follow throughout the year. This list is by no means complete.
JANUARY 1st: Resolution Run. Usually a local 5K, and in years past, still a bit drunk. Coffee and any residual hangover accompanies me while I mark birthdays, anniversaries, etc. in RED INK on my new wall calendar. I usually think back to my childhood at this time, too, when New Year's Day meant a trip to my grandparents' houses for birthday celebrations for my paternal grandfather (January 2nd) and my maternal grandfather (January 17). I really think it was an excuse for another family get-together, and for my male relatives to watch lots of football games and drink beer. JANUARY 16th: Celebrate Daughter #1's birthday. Birthday celebrations include choice of food at dinnertime, and choice of dessert (cake, pie, cheesecake, etc.).
FEBRUARY28th: Celebrate Daughter #2's birthday. See description of birthday celebration above.
MARCH 17th: St. Patrick's Day. Wear something green; drink hot tea and eat buttered toast with grape jam (NEVER jelly) in honor of my maternal grandmother's birthday.
SPRING BREAK: May begin to purchase and consume Cadbury's Creme Eggs. There is no rule for consuming said eggs purchased by someone else; however, said eggs (regardless of purchasing personnel) must be stored in the freezer, and eaten in the frozen state: crunchy chocolate + solid creme filling = miraculous.
APRIL: Opening Day for MLB- adjust work schedule to facilitate viewing of Chicago Cubs' opener; manufacture feelings of hopefulness that "This is gonna be our year!" with beer and popcorn, at least until 7th inning stretch.
MAY: Usually the weekend after Mother's Day- host "Run & Brunch" event for friends. I didn't host the past two years due to Daughter #1's high school graduation, and then my work schedule. I think its going to make a re-appearance in 2012, though. See, I send out super cute invites to all of my runner friends (male & female), inviting them to participate in a local 5K, then come over for brunch afterwards. The first year it was just women, and we just ran one of my regular routes, not a race. The second year we did a local race. It was so nice to feel the camaraderie runners share and to show off my Martha Stewart-like hostess skills. Like I said, its comin' back in 2012. Memorial Day Weekend- Celebrate birthdays galore (my mother, two red-headed brothers-in-law, and now Bunny Boy); bring outdoor furniture out of winter storage, and sit outside on said furniture as long as the sun is shining (please note: snow may still be present).
JUNE: There isn't anything special about June for me, except that ever since I moved to the Upper Peninsula, I've spent the majority of June wondering when Summer will make an appearance.
JULY 4th: Run in Firecracker 5 Mile race. This was my first ever competitive race. Ever. I was training for my very first marathon, and my father-in-law said that I should get some experience doing races, being with lots of other runners. Also, there was the promise of a parade after the race. (Note to my Hog Capitol peeps: It's no Hog Days parade.) I have run it every year since then, and look forward to it, as for me it marks the start of summer. Independence Day is also my favorite holiday. Cookout or potluck party with friends; fire works viewed from the lake shore. Since living in the U.P., cookouts on July 4th have been day-long affairs for me. It used to be my in-law's home, and now it has been time split between my friend Fast Jessica's house (for food and perhaps a beergarita) and My Favorite Redhead's house (for a fire, beer, s'mores, and fireworks). JULY 20th: Eat Polish food in honor of my paternal grandmother. I have been known to consume the dreadful, frozen, store-bought version of pierogi; I do not recommend them unless it is a true Polack emergency. That, of course, means that you've run out of vodka, and if that's the case? Shame on you.
AUGUST: Nothing really special about August, either, unless Labor Day weekend falls at the end of the month. In which case...
SEPTEMBER: Labor Day Weekend, aka Hog Days. This marks the end of summer, for sure. It also marks one of the only times I make it to my parents' house during the year. I haven't been to Hog Days in the past two years (including this year) due to scheduling conflicts with work and other family obligations. I miss it so, so much. This is how it goes: usually the high school football team has its home opener on Friday night. Saturday morning there's the Hog Stampede (4 mile road race), followed at 2 pm by the absolutely fabulous Hog Days Parade which includes some of my favorite things: the Highland Bagpipers, The Marching Grey Ghosts of IVCC (community college), the Youth Rhythm Corps out of the Quad Cities, and my brother the fireman passing the fireman's boot along the parade route for donations to charity. Saturday night is Drinking Night. The bars downtown are in an L-shape on the block; if you go out the back door of one bar, and jog to the left, you'll be in the next bar. The alleyway is blocked off by the police, and you're allowed to wander around outside in this massive beer garden/street party atmosphere. Sunday is when you are convinced you are a volleyball champion, and you will WIN your match in the mud volleyball tournament that day. Some years you are correct. Monday is the Fly In Breakfast at the regional airport, served up by the municipal fire department (the one that takes care of the rural areas rather than calls within the city limits). And then just like *that* your summer is over.
OCTOBER 1st: May begin to mix and consume the afore-mentioned candy corn/cocktail peanut snack mix. Doesn't everybody eat this and love it? No?
NOVEMBER: The Night Before Thanksgiving. Two years ago, I spent Thanksgiving Eve with My Favorite Redhead and her husband, one of my Red-Headed-Brothers-in-Law. I taught him how to mix a proper vodka gimlet, and we and everyone else present drank mightily while singing Billy Joel songs pounded out on the piano & organ in the living room. It was a perfect pre-holiday night, the likes of which I will long for yearly in hopes of recreating it again. Thanksgiving Day- Run the Gladstone Turkey Trot 5K. Except for that year we made gimlets at Red's house. Oops.
DECEMBER 6th: Begin day with phone call from mother where she tells me again about how she remembers this day ("We were out cutting down a Christmas tree, and I told your dad to hurry, because it was time to go to the hospital. And it was so cold! And you were in such a hurry to get here!"). May purchase live Christmas tree and begin household Christmas decoration; may begin annual viewings of "Elf." See? It is part of my birthright to be mandated to wait until my birthday before getting a tree. And I love the movie "Elf." It makes me smile and laugh and feel all warm inside every time I watch it. And what girl doesn't want to feel like that on her birthday?
So call me crazy, say I'm OCD, say I'm silly to follow these self-made rituals, to keep on making these observances year after year. Go ahead, it's fine. Really. I don't care. They are my collected experiences turned into memory, and recognized and venerated in such a way that brings me comfort and happiness,no matter what else life throws at me.
See, Duck? You're not alone when you say that the worse it gets out there, the better you perform, and the more you enjoy what you have in the moment.