A New First

They woke up to find the table set with the best dishes, the girls’ tea sets, and a chocolate kiss on each plate.

When one of my sons saw the table, he asked, “Mommy! Who’s coming?”

“Nobody. This is for us.”

I’d set the table the night before–after they’d gone to bed. And so a new tradition for the first day of school was born. A fancy table with fancy food on a day I wanted to feel like a holiday.

Images come to me of those early days. A lone girl dressed in a uniform jumper and Peter Pan blouse and standing in the driveway. Then the yearly photos on the living room landing as their number increased.

They grew from one to five. Then not as many.

At last, two almost men chided each other through what they deemed a childish ritual.

Then the last one smiling–a sister came for the French toast and last picture–which she took of him and me together. My teaching career in its fourth year. His schoolboy days coming to a close.

There were other first days with exchange students. Those who made long journeys to have a first day of school here.

Now we are only two and the celebration of first days happens in other houses. But this year, my husband and I had a new first that I hope carries on.

Our city has seen the beginning of a Sunday morning prayer effort. Local pastors getting up extra early to meet and pray before greeting their Sunday morning congregations.

This year on the day before the first day of school, they met near the bronze mascot of our public high school and invited the community to join them.

It was cold for August. But about 100 people came out to pray for the administrators, teachers, and young people of our county and surrounding counties.

No fancy plates, no chocolate kisses, no French toast.

Community fellowship to lift up the young–including the young of my children. All the young of our towns and boroughs who will touch each other’s lives as they go along.

We start traditions hoping those who come after us will carry something good with them to a new time and place.

This year’s new tradition brings the best for all to carry.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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