Traditions are typically something I think of when talking about the holidays. But traditions can be the little things you do day-by-day with your kids. These are things that may not mean much to you at the time, but suddenly, after some time, become something special to our families. And when this happens, we then want to pass them down to our future generations.
I grew up in St Louis, Missouri.
I loved that town so much. There was such pride in St. Louis, and St. Louis had so much to be proud of!
When I was a kid, my parents would take us to the huge parades downtown and to the amazing world-famous St. Louis Zoo--so large it has a train! St. Louis has some of the best museums, theaters and, of course, I always loved seeing the freshly painted white riverboats floating by. Not because I LOVED riverboats themselves, but because St Louis had the only floating McDonald's Riverboat around! I mean, when you are six, the only thing better than a Happy Meal, is eating a Happy Meal while floating down the river on a riverboat! These were all great things, but there was nothing like hanging out under The Arch, waiting for our turn to ride the elevator to the top if the 630 foot structure so that we could look over the raging Mississippi River and peek into the pride of St. Louis.... Busch Stadium. The home of the St. Louis Cardinals!
If you live in St. Louis, then you live and breathe Cardinal's Baseball!
I don't ever remember my grandpa during baseball season without his little transistor radio held up to his ear listening to his beloved baseball team. He would sit in his favorite chair for hours, waiting for the game. My grandma would sing to us "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" over and over while we dreamed about eating the peanuts and Cracker Jacks!
The town came alive on game days. All anyone talked about was how "The Cards" were going to play.
When we were really lucky, my dad would take us all downtown, and we would make our way through the crazy crowds into the enormous Busch Stadium. The Cardinal's were owned by the famous Busch family of St. Louis. I can still remember the smell of the popcorn, the roaring of the crowd, and feeling so excited sitting next to my dad while I was holding my great big red foam finger in the air!!!!!!! To be honest, I didn't know a thing about baseball, but I knew that I was going to get to see Cardinals player Ozzie Smith do back flips across the field and hear a few "Huey Louis and The News" songs blasted over the loud speakers! And hey, if everyone else was excited about the Cardinals, then I would be, too!
The game would often start with an appearance by the Busch Clydesdale horses pulling a bright red wagon through the field. The crowd would go wild! The Clydesdale's were as St Louis as you can get and us kids loved them! You could visit the Clydesdale Horses at Grant's Farm for free, and up close, to a small child, they seemed like the size of a dinosaur!
Some of my favorite childhood memories were in Busch Stadium, but more than that, the Cardinals were just a part of my growing up. The Cardinals were a tradition in my family long after I moved away from St. Louis my senior year of high school. We still celebrate each time they make it to the World Series which, I hate to brag, has happened more than a few times! Go Cards!
Last summer, we took our kids back to St. Louis for a reunion, and one of the things my husband and I really wanted to do with them was take them to a Cardinal's Baseball game. A lot had changed for the Cardinal's since the last time I watched a game. The beloved Busch Stadium has been replaced by a new stadium, my favorite Short Stop Ozzie Smith has long since retired and the Busch family no longer owns the Cardinal's baseball team. But, what hasn't changed is the heart of the team and the loyalty of the fans! I was so excited to share this memory with my kids. And not only did we get to see a game, but we got a personal tour of the new stadium!
Sitting in that Stadium with my kids, watching the game, I realized, that The Cardinal's were not just a baseball team to me. They were a part of my childhood. The were a tradition. They are a connection to my beloved grandpa who is no longer with us and a connection to a city that I left behind but still loved very much. And I was so grateful to pass this tradition on to my children.
I love that my children have memories of the St Louis Cardinals, and wear their Card's t-shirts proudly! And, I love that my Northwestern born kids and my little Haitian Sensation will remember the smell of the peanuts and the roaring of the crowds cheering on the Cardinals, even if it is from thousands of miles away.