by Lydia Chloe
When people talk about traditions, I feel like they talk about generations of rituals that get repeated over time, that fall like drops inside the vase that has the shape of culture. Since I was little, I didn’t like traditions-we had a lot in my family. The way we decorated the Christmas tree, with the same big balls at the bottom and the delicate, wooden toys higher up. We always had an angel on top, not a star, like most people do, never a star. I always wanted a star.
I wanted fish on Christmas day. I hated the lamb that we had in Easter. My grandmother was very understanding; she bought me Christmas pastries all year round-sometimes we froze it so that it would last longer, so that I would unexpectedly, untraditionally have Christmas food in late May and ice-cream before New Year’s Eve dinner. Growing up, I realised that my family was not really traditional, that my mum simply found comfort in this ritualistic ocean. She found safety. For her it didn’t matter what other people did, she didn’t care about the vase of culture. She actually preferred the angel to the star on the Christmas tree and she enjoyed longing for the Easter lamb. For her, traditions are a way of living.
What I also realised is that traditions are a way of living for me too. A different set of traditions, personal rituals that I follow more sacredly than other people follow real traditions and religious receptions. I guess you could say that eating Christmas pastries in May was a kind of tradition for me, although it didn’t feel that way. ‘How many people need to follow a ritual for it to be a tradition’, I wonder sometimes. I look at myself from afar, I look at my little capsule of rituals and traditions that I have accumulated over the years. When I am sad, really sad I read the same postcard, from years ago that my best friend gave me. It shows two old ladies in black, holding flowers, under the greek sun. I don’t know if it is the sun, or the old ladies, or what A. writes on the card about us growing old together like them but it always makes me feel better. What I also do, when I am sad is to light red candles, and eat tangerines under my duvet. This is the “hard times” tradition. My nails get a bit orange from the tangerine peels and my bed smells of sadness, which is the smell of tangerines, for days. Traditionally, it is the fifth season for me. The season of sadness.
I have traditions of all the little things that surround me, vases where I put little papers with moments of happiness, or wonder, or beauty. I write all these moments down, and put them in vases. I will, traditionally, open the vases at the end of the year. For me, flying back home is a tradition-the way I pack and the things I pack, the suitcase I take with me and what I wear. I have three outfits that I alternatively wear every time I go home; people don’t get suspicious and I keep my tradition.
Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night I feel strong, independent, as if the vase of culture belongs to me only, as if, for me, a tradition is safe if I am the only one keeping it. And then I know; how my mum felt about the angel on the Christmas tree. How I will feel about the star I will be putting on my tree this year.