Traditions stay with us because they are full of happy memories…
and there’s nothing wrong with that.
It is when you are not planning on creating traditions for yourself that you actually end up creating them. One day you realize you have made yourself some traditions along the way, like what Tevye kept singing about in that Fiddler on the Roof movie.
I started going to the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Terminal ever since I got back from my three years living in Korea some 8 years ago. Just sitting at the oyster bar with a beer and a ration of fried oysters is still one of my best memories. But now when we go, it’s for raw oyster and a gin martini, sometimes a Gibson.
When my mom and aunt could no longer take care of themselves and I had to go up to their apartment in the Bronx to check in on them every other day, (when I thought I would lose my mind), I knew I would be okay once I got off the Metro North and made my way to a seat at the Oyster Bar, next to the Boyfriend who had just got off from work.
And after a dozen or so oysters, if we were ready for dinner, we would make our way down to New York Noodletown on the Bowery where I have been going since 1992.
And where I have been ordering the same three dishes since 1992:
Oh sure, when Tevye was singing about tradition he was singing about nostalgia for the past and reluctance to move away from it. To embrace change and the future is to admit you can never go back to the way things were. Or can you? Well, sometimes you can and I like to think that’s what tradition is all about.
I know I can count on the lighting and the gin at the Oyster Bar to bring me back to a place inside of me where I feel everything is right with the world, and that the roast duck at Noodletown will always ground me, reminding me of a really important life lesson: It doesn’t take much to make you happy, just the right things.