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Traditions interrupted, traditions reinvented

For more than a decade now, my Memorial Day weekend plans have always consisted of taking a trip to downtown Raleigh for the annual “Animazement” convention, a three-day festival featuring all kinds of Japanese media and culture. It’s a tradition I look forward to every year.

In the weeks leading up to the event, I usually spend my time getting ready. There are a ton of things to do! I plan out a budget to make sure I don’t spend too much. I write out a schedule of events I absolutely don’t want to miss. I look up downtown restaurant menus to see if there are new places to check out. I check to make sure there’s not any ongoing road construction that’ll send me on a detour to the convention center. I think about all the things I need to pack and then procrastinate until the night before.

And, of course, I reminisce about the previous years. I have so many good memories associated with the annual trip, plenty that I could talk about for days that I won’t detail here. Thinking about all of it makes me feel really excited, so I’m always ready to have fun by the time I arrive.

So you can probably guess that I was quite disappointed this year when the convention was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. It was the right decision, of course, even if we hadn’t been under stay-at-home orders from the governor. The convention draws several thousands of people each year and viruses can easily spread in such close contact.

Still, it’s not a good feeling to have to break a long-running tradition. I know I’m not the only one who feels the same right now. I’m sure the pandemic has derailed plenty of plans people look forward to: annual vacations, holiday celebrations, high school and college graduations. Any number of things have to be postponed until it’s safe for us to meet again without the worry of transmitting a disease that could have severe or fatal consequences for some.

Traditions hold a lot of importance to many people. Sometimes, the routine is comforting. Sometimes, the event is significant enough to be repeated annually. Sometimes, we just keep doing the same thing each year simply because it’s fun. So when traditions are broken, it hurts more than just a regular change of plans.

But while some traditions can’t be replaced, most can be resumed later despite the interruption. In the future, we’ll look back on the empty gap and remember what we had to do. Eventually it’ll just be a memory and life will go on as usual again.

In the meantime, however, I’ll try to think of a different creative way to carry out my usual tradition since I’ll be home this year. Perhaps I’ll watch some old DVDs of my favorite TV series or pull out some of my old comics gathering dust. Maybe I’ll get started really early making plans for next year. I know eventually I’ll get to go to the convention again.

Anyone else out there coming up with different ideas to carry out or replace their traditions disrupted by the pandemic? If there’s one positive thing I’ve seen so far during these unsettling times, it’s that people are so creative in finding new, safer ways to do things.

I’m curious to see how different traditions will be reinvented for the future.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.