2017-02-01 / Family Matters

Warm, Fuzzy Day:

A new Family Tradition
David Rockower

Before I had kids, I worked in an elementary school with a witty, fun-loving fourth grade teacher. She showed her students a rubber ear floating in water and told them it was from the last student who didn’t listen to her. She threatened to chase them with a pillow shaped like a drumstick. The kids loved her, and it was clear to me that the traditions and routines established in her classroom made it an authentic place for students to grow and learn. She also talked about some of the traditions she started with her own children. Halloween was a favorite holiday — each year she held a party and made green snakes in blood sauce, salad with imported French snails, and bloody eyeball pie. After working with her, I always wanted to establish my own traditions in the classroom and at home. Though I’ve been successful doing this with my students, it’s taken me far too long to do it at home.

Like so many plans, this one became lost in the daily grind of life. At home, we celebrate birthdays, Hanukkah, Halloween, and a few other traditional holidays, but we haven’t carved out our own unique family traditions. Until this year. After a particularly rough week in early November, we needed a boost.

Family morale was low, the weather wasn’t cooperating, and the end of daylight saving time was making it impossible to play outside after dinner. One night, I declared that the upcoming Saturday would be our family’s inaugural Warm Fuzzy Day. I explained that we would be taking a family drive to the Woolrich store near Lock Haven — because, you know, Woolrich just screams warm and fuzzy. Despite the blatantly cheesy title for the day, all family members were keen on the idea.

Somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind, I had associated comforting fall days with a drive to Woolrich. I don’t think my parents had taken me there as a child, but I’m fairly certain I’d been there with a friend once or twice. None of this really mattered. What did matter was that I’d boldly initiated a family tradition, and now it was on me to make it work.

It was clear the powers that be approved of my plan — the weather was spectacular, and we set off on a beautiful hour-long drive. Because Warm Fuzzy Day prohibits any type of argument or fighting in the car, the ride was even more enjoyable. Once we arrived at the Woolrich store, the kids went right to the stuffed animals. I thought maybe they were beyond the stuffed animal stage, but come on, who can resist a teddy bear in a plaid Woolrich hoodie? We tried on warm fuzzy jackets, warm fuzzy boots and warm fuzzy shirts, and we felt warm fuzzy socks. Each of us left the store with something, but I’m not sure the day would have been any less successful if we had not.

As we headed back to the car, the kids noticed a neighboring park. They asked if we could spend some time there, and Michelle nodded. It was an old-school park with metal seesaws sheltered by a thousand ancient trees, their fallen leaves creating a thick blanket over the grass and mulch. Luckily, I had my good camera on hand and both kids were willing subjects. We seesawed, monkey-barred, and leaf-battled.

After we had our fill, we headed to a pizza place for lunch. We talked about the day, and I asked if we should make Warm Fuzzy Day a yearly thing. Everyone agreed that, yes, this would be a tradition worth continuing.

I savored the drive home. We travel often for soccer and basketball, but those drives are so often rushed — we are in a hurry to be at a field, a court, or to get home. This day was not about timelines. It was about establishing a tradition when we are together, enjoying family, food and, of course, flannel. What could be warmer and fuzzier than that? •SCM

With a sports-obsessed 12-year-old son, a spirited 10-year-old daughter and a goldendoodle who looks like a muppet, teacher David Rockower has a lot to write about.

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