I made a joke on Facebook last Tuesday night about how I had invented a Canada Day eve tradition of baking cakes and drinking beer and I noted that I have been inventing traditions since 1972. My mom was quick to back me up – I do love to invent a tradition.
I think that time passes so fast that it’s good to have ‘markers’ in the year, signposts that make you notice what time of year it is and that give you things to anticipate and celebrate.*
So I have specific things that I do for Christmas, Hallowe’en, back to school, end of school, and so on. When it comes to summer though, I tend to gather a set of experiences that make it ‘feel’ like summer is here. Those range from visiting a couple of favourite parks, going for specific walks, drinking beer on the patio, having a Canada Day party, and having roasted marshmallows around a backyard fire at my friends’ house.
I like marshmallows any time, especially roasted ones, and I like them at camp or on the beach, but they are particularly good at Anne and Kevin’s place. I think that the whole experience makes the marshmallows taste better. Sitting in chairs around the fire, joking and giving each other grief. Burning some marshmallows and handing them to Kev or to Katie, striving for the perfect balance of brown on the outside and melty-ness on the inside (when you get it just right, the marshmallow slides right off the stick). The whole situation makes you slow down and enjoy everything about it – the trees above me, the sounds from the street, the smell of the fire, the looks on my friends’ faces. There’s a real power in how good it all feels.
Wednesday was the Canada Day party, today was our first fire of the summer, I can feel that I am gathering all the right experiences to make these summer feel rich and satisfying.
Now, my challenge is to keep this trend going so I can keep a balance between plans and spontaneous fun and be able to remember all of this clearly when winter comes again.**
*There’s a fair bit of happiness research that suggests this is a good idea, too, since anticipation brings a great deal of joy and stopping to notice good times is good for your brain.
**I don’t dread winter or anything, I have lots of fun when the snow flies, but when it gets long, I like to pull up memories of nights like this one to remind me that good weather will come again.