Dunbar: Childhood traditions carry meaning into college years


Blair Dunbar, Columnist

This past Sunday was Easter. For me, Easter is the one day a year I go to church. And, from what I gather, that is the case for many other people who are not often religiously inclined.

I tend to equate Easter with Valentine’s Day in terms of its magnitude as a holiday. Both holidays involve the exchanging of candy, perhaps some cards and some quality time with a loved one or two. Easter does have a religious significance, unlike Valentine’s Day, but people often don’t proclaim Easter or Valentine’s Day as their favorite holiday. That’s why I was sort of surprised when there was heavy debate on the Northwestern Crew team about whether or not it was OK if we came back from spring training on Sunday afternoon or Saturday night.

Obviously, I understood the importance for practicing Christians, but I was a little taken aback when my relatively non-religious friend expressed her desire to go to church. I was also surprised when I realized how important Easter was for me when, after all, I’m half Jewish and don’t exactly believe the religious story behind Easter. But that’s the funny thing about family traditions: Sometimes, somehow, they just stick.

When I think of Easter, I don’t think of Jesus rising from the dead but of giant Easter egg hunts, family brunches, and baskets of chocolate. While I used to pretend to be asleep so I could avoid going to church, now I willingly attend Easter service. It brings back memories from my childhood. After all, I’m too old for Easter egg hunts with the neighborhood kids, my grandma doesn’t live in the house where I used to have Easter brunch, and chocolate bunnies no longer surprise me in my living room.

It’s not just Easter that brings people closer to their childhood traditions. Sometimes it’s the everyday. I have a friend who was raised Jewish, Bar Mitzvah and all. Now, he freely admits he doesn’t really believe in Jewish theology. I was surprised, though, when we went out to eat and he refused to order a pepperoni pizza. He told me that he still tries to keep kosher. Another friend of mine from home is far from a practicing Catholic, but she still keeps a strand of rosary beads with her.

So far I’ve talked about religious practices that stick, but those aren’t the only ones that do. My grandmother makes scrambled eggs like nobody else by putting a little bit of water in them. Recently, I found out that my aunt makes eggs the same way. She probably doesn’t even realize it. I, personally, am reminded of my mother every time I ask my boyfriend what’s wrong. My mom and I always tend to assume people are upset, just by looking at their faces.

College takes us far away from home and it’s easy to get caught up in newfound independence, but we never really leave our families or our childhood. Inevitably, little habits or quirks stay with us, and we can’t manage to shake practices that seem irrelevant or outdated now. We all know that our upbringings influence us, but how often do we think about what those exact influences are? Next time you are feeling a little homesick, take a step back. Thinking of your parents when you don’t order pepperoni on your pizza or your childhood home when you make scrambled eggs might just make you feel a little less far away.

Blair Dunbar is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].