It was Lobster Day yesterday. We've had an annual lobster dinner in my family now for almost 30 years. It's the traditional way we kick off summer around here. The festive spread makes my mouth water: fresh lobster with plenty of butter and lemon, potato salad with asparagus and bacon, coleslaw, corn on the cob, warmed sourdough bread, and a light and fluffy dessert (this year my sister made a layered something-wonderful: Oreo cookie crust, chocolate pudding, whipped cream: simple and super yummy).
Here's Roo checking out our dinner. She pet them, carried them about, and named each and every one of them (just like I used to do when I was little). Fortunately, she didn't seem to make the connection between the lobsters crawling around in front of her and the lobsters that showed up on our plates!
My family, like many, is steeped in tradition. I love it. I thrive on tradition. It provides a kind of rhythm that soothes me. Lobster Day? Must be the start of summer. Croquet and jarts on the lawn? It must be 4th of July. Crabbing, body surfing, sandcastle building, and feasting on Jersey tomatoes = August, down the shore. Orange rolls and cocoa? Time for the annual Christmas tree cutting.
Traditions comfort and nurture us. And when we take part in traditions that go back several generations, we feel apart of something bigger than ourselves. When I look at old black and white photos of my great-grandfather and his family down at the shore, I feel that it's more than a beach vacation that we're taking. It's building on who we are and where we've come from as a family. Going back to our roots. Every time we take part in long-standing traditions, we send those roots down a little deeper.
Some people like to change things up -- give traditions a modern flair. My sister is one of those people. She appreciates tradition, but longs for something new. She is completely comfortable with the idea of skipping the Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing recipe handed down from our grandmother, and getting take-out Chinese food instead.
I, on the other hand, am a traditionalist. A deviation from tradition is okay once in a great while. But, on the whole, I want it the way it's been for as long as I can remember. That's why I look forward to days such as Lobster Day. Not only because the menu is mouth-watering, but because it just how we "do" the start of summer. They're synonymous.
As they say, the only constant in life is change. Isn't it nice to have something you can always count on?
The centerpiece: freshly-picked roses from my sister's garden. Aren't they gorgeous?!