When you’re not religious and you live 1,000 miles away from your family and don’t travel because you’re poor and have 900 animals and are a John-Madden-level claustrophobic who’s afraid of flying, you don’t really have much opportunity for traditions and rituals. Well, we don’t, anyway. For example, we don’t have family gatherings for holidays like when I was a kid, where my parents and I hung out with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Now, we tend to do whatever presents itself with friends, or nothing. Either way, it’s cool, because we’re not big holiday people.
The thing is, I’m not sure I want Soren to grow up with absolutely no holiday or holiday-like traditions. I mean, they can be really nice! When I was a kid, my spoiled only-child little heart spent weeks looking forward to Christmas at my grandparents’ house and the mountain of presents with my name on them. And my nana’s homemade noodles. Holy crap you guys the homemade noodles, drizzled with lightly browned butter — they were the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten and I haven’t had them since well before nana died in the 80s.
We don’t have big Christmases and homemade noodles and a nana who writes your name on plastic Easter eggs with goodies inside and hides them around their sprawling ranch house in Park Ridge, IL, but maybe we should have something. Maybe the answer is to create traditions where they’re meaningful for us. And if by “meaningful for us” I mean meaningful for me (and this is my blog so of course that’s what I mean), the answer is sports.
I figure MLB Opening Day (capitalized because it’s a holiday!) is the best place to start. When you’re a sports fan, MLB Opening Day is exciting. It’s the start of so many things! It’s the start of summer, of biking to the game, of drinking beer while waiting for the sun to dip behind the Coors Field scoreboard, of missing Chicago, of laughing out loud at Ed Farmer (he’s funny!) and hearing commercials for Chicago pizza places, of waiting for Hawk Harrelson to yell “You can put it on the board . . . YES!!!” and Instagrammed pictures of baseball players nobody cares about except me and reading The Dugout (which seems to no longer exist) and watching the guys in the bullpen because the bullpen is one of my favorite things ever.
And seriously, if I can get kind of ridiculous and sappy for a minute, it’s the start of hope. Nobody makes me hope as much as the White Sox. This could be the year. Well, I mean, this probably won’t be the year what with the “R” word being thrown around and a manager who has more experience charging the mound than, well, managing, but still. With baseball, I always feel like it’s at least possible.
The question is which MLB Opening Day to celebrate. Opening Day in general? The first White Sox game? The first Rockies game? The first home game at Coors Field?
To tell you the truth I’m not a big fan of going to the first home game at Coors Field. It’s always way too crowded and they charge too much for tickets (for a while, if you wanted to buy tickets for Opening Day, you had to buy tickets for another game in that series, too — I don’t know if they still do this) and they run out of good beer (you almost don’t mind this because the lines for the good beer and the bathrooms are ridiculous). With a toddler, it’s even kind of hard to hang out anywhere around Coors Field that day — last year, I remember trying to go to Falling Rock Tap House and it was so ridiculously crowded even after the game started we gave up on the idea.
So at least for now, I’m thinking our MLB Opening Day will be a low-key event that involves watching the Sox, eating pizza, and hanging out. This year, it’ll have to happen for game 2 because we didn’t take Friday off work. But in the future, I think we should all take the day off of work or school for our Opening Day celebration. I mean, it’s fair to take holidays off, and this is our holiday. At least until Ben (the Cubs fan who, in typical Cubs fan fashion, can’t name 3 players on the active roster — love you, Cubs fans!) objects to the way I’m trying to make our kid a Sox fan.