I attended two promotions last week. Maia had her sixth grade promotion and Chongo finished up eighth grade. Both were flawless and smooth (my kids had come home sunburned from their hours of rehearsing), and neither was unbearably long or boring. It was in fact a lovely, meaningful transition, marking the end of one school and the beginning of another. And I was reminded of how important these traditions are, that it's worth the clothes shopping and the hour spent on the hair and the rush to be on time and orderly.
We live in a world where change is an everyday occurrence. We change jobs, schools, churches, spouses, neighborhoods, friends, wardrobes and cars far more often than our fore bearers did. Psychologists say change creates stress for most people, and if that's true we are getting more and more stressed out as a culture. But there are some traditions that honor these times of transition, because we know that it's important to celebrate and embrace change. To take time out to recognize that our lives are in flux, and that we feel a great deal at these moments. To say goodbye, to cry a little, and to let our stomachs flutter with anticipation at the new.
In our family we have been walking down to our local school for nine years. On the last day of school the 6th grade teachers led their kids through the school to say goodbye to the places and people they had spent the better part of their lives with. As a family, we sadly say goodbye to those days and the community we experienced at our neighborhood school. But we also welcome the new opportunities, the challenge of middle school and high school.
And there was one more ceremony. Chongo had a church party for the eighth grade graduates. The youth leaders presented each eighth grader with a journal spoke about each of them with words that affirmed what they saw in them and appreciated about each of them.
In each of these transition ceremonies I felt the right-ness, the beauty of honoring this passage in my kids lives. In those moments I could not imagine any better place to be.