So much of my childhood was rooted in ritual and tradition. Sunday mornings meant donuts. My father drove 20 minutes to one particular donut shop. I still remember the little gray paved building and the ring of the bell as soon as I walked through the doors. I always picked a cinnamon cake donut, while my sister loved the chocolate glazed speciality.
Everyday at 4:45 a.m., the newspaper landed with a thud on our driveway. That meant that morning commenced and breakfast followed soon. We always ate our morning meal together, while we divided up the paper. I gravitated to the comics section, my mom clipped coupons, and my father stared at the front page. A bowl of Lucky Charms cereal and milk were a frequent guest at our breakfast table. If I close my eyes, I still see the colors of all the marshmallows.
Cowboy games were a must in our house over the weekend. My sister and I would drive to Subway and get our veggie sandwich, Sun Chips, and chocolate chip cookies and race back home so we didn’t miss any of the game. We sprawled our food out on the living room floor like we were having a picnic and watched each play with great intensity.
There were many other traditions, ones that I’ve written about in this space with fervor. The fruit cake during our Hindu Christmas, the ice cream visits to Braums, and the coffee my father made when I studied for exams during the school year. So much of our lives is rooted in what repeats. This is what fuels comfort as time passes. Those moments, when you close your eyes are not fleeting, but are a permanent landscape.
Memory is a tricky place. At times it can offer comfort like an old friend. Other times it hits you like a slap in the face. Our ability to gravitate toward rituals and traditions isn’t accidental. It offers a salve to all those painful and sad moments. For me, it is what keeps my own personal pendulum at a healthy balance. I will always, always look at a donut and smile. A flash of a Cowboy’s jersey will give me a chuckle. When I actually have an opportunity to touch a newspaper, I think of all those countless mornings we spent together as a family.
What repeats is what endures.