“Without traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.”
This is according to Tveye, the Jewish Papa from Fiddler on the Roof. If Tveye is right, the thing that grounds and anchors our days, lives, and roles, is…
In the 7 minute long clip of Tveye singing about tradition (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdfX7ut8gw. It’s worth it), he tells the audience,
“Because of our traditions, every one knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”
In five weeks of marriage, Frans and I have begun to develop our own Sunday evening tradition. I look forward to these Sunday evenings all week. For the first part we walk around the neighborhood holding hands, enjoying the weather, rain or shine. Sunday night in our section of Amsterdam is trash night, and the streets are piled high with black garbage bags, unwanted bookshelves and old ovens, leftover tiles and rickety chairs. Sometimes, you find treasure.
I’m planning on giving it a good sand, bath, and new paint job and then selling it on Marktplaats, the dutch Craigslist. I figure I can make 15 euros. It’s the beginnings of my little side business, a business I’ve always dreamed about having.
And this little table. We found it abandoned on the side of the road. Frans spent some time stabilizing it, and then I primed and painted what felt like 10 layers of good, white paint called Zonnelicht. Sunlight.
We end our walk lately at Wannie’s Snackbar. Wannie’s is known for fresh frites (fries) met (with) frittesaus. We also buy croquettes and frittekaas, which taste much like the croquettas I’m used to in West Palm…breadcrumbs on the outside of a meatpaste, and frittekaas is like a cross between a Jamaican patty and grilled cheese. Both are fried and unhealthy, but Sunday nights are for celebrating. On a rainy night, people come into the store and wait while the lady with the smoker’s voice pushes potatoes through to make long potato strings, and fries them. They speak in Dutch and point to things in the glass case. The crowded room is quiet, yet any time someone enters the store, there is a collective, “Hoi!” (hoy) and a collective “Doei!” (due-ee) at the exit.
We leave with our purchases, paper bags hot to the touch, and walk quickly to make the 7pm voetbal (soccer) show, a show that highlights the week’s games. Frans purposefully avoids all news so that he will be surprised by the outcome of the week’s summary. I enjoy watching it with him, but also trail off on my own into the world of Pinterest or Marktplaats, or write a postcard or card to a friend, only to come back to the voetbal world at a near-miss or an amazing goal.
Often later there is a Skype date with family, and the conversation with familiar people in a familiar place rounds out the feeling of tradition.
Tradition. Our Sunday nights remind us of who we are and what God expects of us.
I am someone who enjoys making beautiful things out of ordinary, discarded things.
My husband is someone who loves to help his wife thrive. That’s why he takes these walks with me, holding my hand in all kinds of weather.
We stop to eat a meal someone else cooks that night, we celebrate the week’s highlights of the Dutch national pastime. We share our week with family.
I think God expects us to enjoy what he’s given. Our Sunday nights are simple celebrations, a weekly reminder to be grateful. I hope we keep this tradition alive.