by Jannaka Oxendine
(Rocky Mt, NC)
My Family Traditions
The old-fashioned characteristics that flow through my family’s veins allow us to have countless traditions. Like most families, my family celebrates the major holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. However, the surprising events that unravel during those special times of the year is what make my family traditions unique.
For example, a typical Thanksgiving Day consists of sounds from family and friends conversing around a table of delicious foods. This is not the case with my family; all we hear are the smoke detectors letting us know the food is past prepared.
During Easter time, the participants in our annual egg hunt can expect nothing less than yolk in the middle of our Easter eggs. Grandpa says “it’s all about the hunt, not the eggs.” Even though my family misses the gist of what should occur during the holidays, we have learned that the most important thing are the memories.
My most fondest memories occur during my family’s annual camping trip during Labor Day weekend. This trip is always full of adventurous stories, tons of laughter, and simple family bonding.
Initially, the adventurous stories that take place around the nightly campfires can be defined as the foundation of why we go camping each year. Each family member has his or her own way of narrating past experiences. The light around the campfire allows us to focus on every lingering word by producing such a calm and relaxing environment.
My daddy has earned the Oxendine reputation of our family’s best storyteller. When my daddy is preparing to talk about his childhood adventures, everyone sits on the edge of his or her tree stump anxiously awaiting his next word. One of my favorite stories my daddy tells is the day he met my mama. He can remember to a “tee” exactly what clothes she was wearing, how her hair looked, and what perfume she had dabbed on her neck. As he talks about his adventurous love story the woods get quiet, the symphony of crickets stop playing, and everything is silent. The only sound is my daddy’s voice echoing throughout the woods. My family is brought closer together as each member tells of their secrets in their stories.
Secondly, the minor mishaps that occur during these four days have been known to make me laugh until my side hurts. Strange things always happen to my family, no matter where we are. Last year when we went camping we were on our way back from the lake, when all of a sudden we had to stop for an ostrich to cross the road. Now I have heard of chickens crossing the road but never an ostrich. Needless to say, we were all dumbfounded. After seeing that, my family just looked at one another with a blank stare, then simultaneously burst out laughing. There is never a dull moment when my family goes camping. Everything my family does makes me laugh. Basically, laughter is the foundation that keeps my family together.
Camping provides the best opportunity for my family to bond together. My daddy’s family are “simple folk” who have learned to appreciate the little things, such as family, as a result of their poor childhood. Needless to say, they are all about family bonding. During the weekend we bond in every activity we do, especially working. The first thing we do when we get to the camp site is work. Some way to start a vacation, right? My brother and I take up the responsibility to cut the grass. We use to pretend that we were in the jungle because the blades of Oxendine grass were six feet tall; but we‘re all grown up now.
The next step after cutting the grass is pitching the tents. This is my favorite part of camping. No matter how many times my aunt has been camping she can never grasped the concept of how to put up a tent. My aunt would stare aimlessly at the diagrams contemplating where each component goes. Then after about ten minutes of stressful searching, would call out to my family for help. Everything we do that weekend, we do it as a family. Whether it is going to the lake to swim, or fishing off the pier, to simply riding about the camp site seeing how much has changed; each activity allows us to bond as a family. This camping tradition is all about togetherness.
Every family has a tradition that they hold dear in their heart. During that tradition you can actually see the abundance of love being passed from one family member to another. This sense of closeness allows families to feel inseparable if only for a moment. It does not matter if the tradition is popular to culture or just randomly made up one year; all that counts are the memorable experiences between the family. My family camping trip takes place one weekend each year, yet contributes to half of my fondest memories.