I’m a big fan of traditions, the cheesier the better. Whether it’s weekly ice cream dates or watching the same silly movies every fall (Hocus Pocus anyone?) or the way we open our presents one at a time at Christmas, I love it.
Somehow, I managed to find a college that was as nuts about traditions as me. Mount Holyoke was crazy about them. We had M & C’s at 9:30 every school night, even when the milk and cookies were replaced with carrots and saltines because of the budget and health concerns. We met for ice cream on Mary Lyon’s grave on Founder’s Day. We do synchronized canoeing to celebrate graduation (yeah, I even planned it for my class).
But nothing compares to my favorite tradition: Mountain Day.
Mountain Day is a special day for the MHC community, a spontaneous holiday that begins with the bells ringing incessantly early in the morning to announce that all classes are canceled, all obligations are dismissed, and ice cream (served by the college President) is waiting for you at the top of the 935 foot “mountain” that bears our name.
When I was a student, I loved Mountain Day so much that I made it a monthly tradition (with a little more planning). My friend and roommate Julia and I hiked Mt. Holyoke once a month for our first two years of college. Sometimes, that meant hiking in December before sunrise. Sometimes, we would run into an elderly couple who hiked it every day. Once in a while, we did it twice in one month, or drove to the top just to see the view without doing the work.
After I returned to MHC after a year abroad, the tradition picked up where I left it, with a more varied group of hiking buddies. I saw the leaves change up there, I saw the river flood and freeze, and I grew up over my years spent on that gloried hill. I even delivered the student address at graduation about Mountain Day and the endless possibilities that it poses.
Mountain Day 2010 was last Wednesday, my second to last day of work. There are no mountains accessible enough for a lunch break excursion or a post-sunset hike, so my best MHC friend, Priti, and I enjoyed mini-ice creams together in her office. It wasn’t the same as eating them while looking out on the lush Pioneer Valley, but it made me realize something.
If we let them, our traditions can grow with us. Our mountains may change, but so does the view from the top. The reason I’m not still in the valley is because I’m living a life that I absolutely love in Boston. It’s a trade-off, but it’s worth it. And the things that really matter will always be there when you need them.
Yes, I’m talking about the ice cream.
What’s your favorite fall tradition?