Traditions are the way we hang onto certainty in a life that is anything but.
We all have them. Some are big-ticket holidays, vacations, birthdays … the way we mark time. It’s such a comfort, the anticipation of something we have experienced before. Year to year, it might change up a bit, but by and large, there is the grounding of “it is mostly the same.”
My Manchester family, the “Chane” Gang, lived at 41 Summer Street. My great grandmother, Margaret MacDonald, an immigrant from Prince Edward Island in 1905, arrived in Magnolia to work as a domestic. She married the postman, Daniel Chane. Margaret “Mama Doots” worked hard to bring all her nine siblings to Massachusetts, get them jobs and spouses!
THE event of the year.
Mama and Papa Doots had five children (and perennial borders) in a tiny house. Although none of their children settled in Manchester permanently, they all came back (with their tribes in tow) for the Fourth of July. It was an event. THE EVENT. It was bigger than Thanksgiving and Christmas combined. It was OUR Holiday.
The Manchester Historical used to reserve their porch for our clan. First, the great grandparents would be transported down with their chairs, canes, and any as-needed accoutrements. Then, 50 or 60 of us would gather on the lawn, porch, and sidewalk to watch, what was to us, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
After the parade, the crew moved up the street to 41 Summer. From bagpipe concerts to belly-dancing demonstrations, we always were the party after the party. At one time, you could write a letter to Mama and Papa Doots, 01944, and it would get to them. The name Chane is mostly a memory in town, but for the Metrano’s, Gavin’s, Willwerth’s.
Things change. No longer is MBTS an epicenter for a huge family annual summer reunion. Most of those beloved faces have crossed the bridge now. But, in my head and heart, they remain. So, at our new location on the corner of School and Pleasant, I’m hopeful that I might see them in passing if I quickly glance to the right or left. Perhaps I’ll see someone who remembers as I do, who brings some of the past to the present.
When we allow ourselves the permission to ride the wave of treasured memories, we are taken back to that time.
Whether we’re standing at the parade, the beach, or admiring the fireworks from our backyard, this year’s Fourth of July will transport all of us to other years, in times recent or long ago. We will remember the wonders of childhood … or the terror of the terribly politically incorrect Native Americans with rubber hatchets that used to march in the parade looking for the most frightened children they could find to torment (me, every year).
As we venture down memory lane, we feel a mixture of gratitude for what was and is, loss and longing for what is gone, and grounding in what stays the same. We have the opportunity to revisit what this Fourth of July has meant to us, a holiday big or small, major or minor. The passage of time is for sure. Change is inevitable.
Remember sweetly this weekend. Savor the precious moments of yesterday, hold them tenderly in your heart, enjoy what is now, and wave to me on the corner of School and Pleasant. I’ll be representing the Chane Gang, yet again.
(Joanne MacInnis is the RN CDP, President - CEO of Aberdeen Home Care, Inc.)