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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

And, They're Off!

I'm a Kentucky girl.  Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in Kentucky lives on a horse farm or knows everything (or ANYthing) about horses. However, we all celebrate the Derby.  It's like Christmas....in spring, with no presents.  In essence, a big party.  Lots of food, beautiful hats, gambling.  Ok, so not so much like Christmas.

I've learned since moving to Indiana, they don't care much about the Derby (IU had their graduation the same day...what!?!?!?)  So, when my Mom decided to visit for the weekend, we decided to have our own Derby party.  ("We" meaning the kids, Mom, Grandaddy and me, so don't get your feelings hurt because you didn't get an invitation.)

We brought out a hat for everyone. Sammie made her own.  

Mom made mint juleps.  We drew names so we'd have our own thoroughbreds to cheer on.  

We piled into Grandaddy's room, and as the coverage started (only two hours here compared to two DAYS back home,) we tried to explain to the little ones what was going on.  We talked about Derby hats and the jockeys and the silks and Churchill Downs and the throngs of people.

It was hard to get them to pipe down for the singing of "My Old Kentucky Home."  Anyone who knows me, knows my favorite part of ANY sporting event is "The Star Spangled Banner."

Most people don't know the verses to "My Old Kentucky Home."  (I do, thanks to an outdoor theater gig I did for about 10 years.  I'll save that for another day.)  But everyone chimes in for the well-known chorus:

Weep no more, my lady.
Oh, weep no more today.
We will sing one song for my old Kentucky home.
For my old Kentucky home far away.

So, my throat starts closing and my eyes start tearing up and I think to myself, "Why am I crying, for heavens' sake?"  And, I look up and derned if my Mom wasn't crying, too! What on earth was that about!?!?!

The only thing I could come up with is this:  tradition.  Year after year after year, Derby was a special time.  A fun time.  A family time.  Even my dad would wear a hat.  If there wasn't a party to go to, we'd have our own.  Make our own mint juleps and sing "My Old Kentucky Home" as if we were right on millionaire's row.

Tradition:  the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.

Tradition.  Those things that cause a flood of memories with just one whiff of roast turkey or the sound of splashing in a pool or the chorus of a familiar song.  Tradition.  Makes me miss Kentucky and my dad.  Maybe that's where the tears really come from.

I wonder what songs will make my kids tear up when they're all grown up?  Is there a song or a scent or a sound that's brought tears to your eyes lately?

7 comments:

  1. You are SOOO fun! I've never seen one second of the Derby. Maybe you'll have to invite us next year and educate us! :) Mint juleps?? Tell me more.

    I can understand it making you cry, and I love that about you. :)

    Anytime I sing (or hear) certain hymns, I cry, remembering standing next to my grandpa and hearing him sing the bass parts.

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  2. I know nothing about the Derby - so it's neat to hear about it.

    There are so many things that bring tears to my eyes, but here's one that will probably get a chuckle.

    My Mom loved her Christmas records and played them over and over every December, so I have a great fondness for those records - one of them being A Herb Alpert Christmas!! I actually found it on CD a couple of years ago and now I play it in December. It may seem silly, but I just love those songs because of the memories. My husband doesn't seem to mind it and my son loves it. Not your typical Christmas music, but I'm passing along the tradition!

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  3. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such a sweet comment! :)

    I absolutely loved this post!! I am huge on tradition and get all teary-eyed at the silliest things just because of what they represent. You just keep on celebrating the derby and someday it'll be your own kids tearing up just when the lyrics say, weep no more. ;)

    By the way, I think some of your socks must have traveled up north & east a bit. Feel free to stop by anytime to retrieve them. ;)

    Grace and Peace,
    Angel

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  4. Love the idea that you have a blog! Of course I have many triggers to my memories! I smell baby powder I think of Kitty. See anything about the cubs I think of Andy. Every time I have toasted ravioli I think of you and Brian because I had them for the first time when you guys took us out to dinner (back in the day when you work for the mayor if I remember correctly). At Easter I think of that great weekend I spent with all of you. When I see avocados I think of your kids. :) The list could go on and on.

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  5. BluegrassinmyBloodMay 9, 2008 at 6:59 PM

    First of all, let me say how excited that I am that you have a blog! Not that I am any closer to one of my own, but I live vicariously through all you bloggy girls (and Scott!)

    I knew we were kindred spirits! I LOVE the Derby!! We watch it every year. All of the pre-race stuff too! I love all of the background stories. I cry at almost every one. There is no animal more beautiful than a horse. Ross makes mint juleps!! We place our bets on the longshots! I ALWAYS root for the grey horses!

    When I was young, my mamaw and papaw would take us to Ellis Park across the river from Henderson. We were "rail birds"! They let us pick a horse every race! What fun!

    The Kentucky Horse Park is a favorite day trip. Have to eat burgoo there too!

    This Derby was so exciting and so sad. I cried like a baby. I want to go see it in person next year. And wear a fancy hat! OK, maybe just a ball cap with the Churchill Downs logo will do! ;-)


    Jill

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  6. I'm from Kentucky and just wanted to stop in and say hi. I found your blog through Cindy/Still His Girl. Glad you were able to celebrate the Derby, it is such a fun day. I've lived in KY all my life, but, have only been able to attend the actual Derby once (last year). It was pretty amazing. And, I tear up every time I hear 'My Old Kentucky Home'. Where did you do the outdoor theater? I was just wondering if it was My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown - we live near it but have not been. I've heard it is a fabulous show and we hope to go this summer. Anyway, nice to meet you and I look forward to reading more of your blog.

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  7. Invite me over for Mint Juleps anytime. Don't know what the heck it is, but I think they drink in the Great Gatsby too.

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