Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some Traditions Are Meant to Be

I'm a mom who likes traditions. Some are grand and involved, such as the annual Thanksgiving shadow puppet theater (which seems to grow more complex each year). Others are small but still meaningful, like serving tea and scones every Sunday afternoon and commissioning my creative girls to provide the centerpiece.

Some traditions have been in the family for years (Mom's ravioli on Christmas day), and some are on the brink of becoming embedded into the system -- just a little more persistence on my part, and they'll be sucked into the Lawson family calendar for good.

Such is the case with a more recent diversion. The kids, admittedly, are still wary. Drew is slightly embarrassed. Bethie? Blushing. But sometimes you just have to jump in and try something new. Like, say for instance, the Lacamas Valley Sheepdog Trials. Yes, I said Sheepdog Trials.

You've seen the movie, Babe, haven't you? You know, the one with the talking pig who learns to herd sheep? Well, I happen to love that movie. You might even call that a tradition -- my family watched it more than once growing up, eyes glistening every time the unassuming Farmer Hogget danced Babe back to health.

So you can imagine my delight last summer when I happened to pass a sign in my very own town, pointing the way to the local trials. I did a little bit of research and found that, sure enough, the sheepdog trials were quite open to the public. Jamie happened to be out of town that week in August, so it was up to me to introduce my children to this local phenomenon . . . and perhaps even begin a new tradition. We prepared the night before by watching Babe (of course), and then loaded up the next day, anticipating a brand new adventure.

It was a very hot, sticky day, but our enthusiasm waned not. We were at the Lacamas Valley Sheepdog Trials. We were among the very few at the Lacamas Valley Sheepdog Trials. The dogs and sheep were doing what dogs and sheep do, and they looked very much like my beloved, cinematic "Fly" and "Ma."

Now, I have to admit that the events weren't nearly as intense and polished as they are in the movie. Not once was I tempted to bite my nails. But that's to be expected. Real life isn't scripted. It was definitely a treat, however, to witness the real deal so close to home. We stayed until the kids were at the melting point, and then returned to our Little Brown House with a new phrase in our vocabulary -- I beamed every time my toddling Avery referred to "the sheepdog trials" with clarity and authority.

This year, as August neared, I started to think about the trials again. Would they be back? If so, would this be a tradition worth pursuing? So last night I hopped online and goolged "Lacamas Valley Sheepdog Trials." Sure enough, they'll be back in town this month. I scrolled down to get all the spectator info, and lo and behold, there was a picture of my very own family at last year's event. Well that settled it. If we're in the annals, it's officially a tradition.

So in a couple of weeks, you'll find my family watching Babe, anticipating a new year at the sheepdog trials. My children will probably laugh and roll their eyes a bit, and my dear, obliging husband may choose to refrain from comment, but I bet this will be a tradition we won't soon forget. It will be just one more strengthening chord that further defines who we are as a family, and who our family is in Christ. Not because of what we do, but because of the sacred unity that grows in these shared moments.

That's the whole point behind traditions. They can be silly and simple, or stately and extravagant. It doesn't really matter, just as long as they happen. I generally tend to steer toward the simple -- it's easier for me to keep the traditions alive that way. But this year I just might branch out a bit more. Perhaps I'll rope in some extended family to make the sheepdog trials a serious tradition. I'm sure there will be plenty of hay bales to go around.
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  1. We went to the sheep dog trials last year, too! We went on the final day so we got to watch the cream of the crop compete. The kids saw the signs and asked if we could go again this year :)

    Oh, and for the record, it is the crowning moment in "Babe" when the farmer dances to make Babe feel better! Hands down, that is my favorite scene of the entire movie!

  2. Julianna, I hope to see you at the trials this year! What a wonderful tradition you've started. I saw the photo of your darling family in last year's spectator section...too cute! I wonder if our Aussie, Quincy, could contain himself around all those sheep if I brought him....hmmmm. :o)

  3. It sounds like Sunday must be the day to go. I think we went on Thursday or Friday last year, so there wasn't a whole lot of action. But it was fun, nonetheless :). I know that they do welcome "spectator" dogs, Mrs. B . . . :)

  4. Do you suppose there's a hay bale big enough for this extended family member?!?

  5. I'm sure we could scoot some together to make an extra wide bale.



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