Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's a Family Tradition

(Those of you with deep country music roots will appreciate the double meaning of my post title. The rest of you can just wonder...)

They say (and by "they" I mean Dr. Phil) that a family grows stronger as they establish and revisit family traditions. Growing up, there were a number of interesting family activities that were a blast but maybe didn't quite make "tradition" status - socky (the most awesome baseball game played with a ball of sewn up socks and your hand), picking Japanese beetles off bushes, dropping them in a bucket, swirling them around, dumping them out and driving over them to hear the crunch, the pie crust made of dog food at Thanksgiving. It is hard to say why some traditions stick and others fade into distant memory.

Of all the traditions I practice, my favorite family tradition began with my folks way back in high school (no, I'm not giving a date) and continues to this day. It is based on three simple words:

Hank Williams Junior.

It started out innocently enough. Many moons ago (again, no incriminating date necessary), Hank Williams Jr began singing the Monday Night Football song. In a nice break from the overly dramatic conversations between mother and teenage daughter, I asked my mom if she knew who was singing. She said no, and being an educated country music listener, I told her that it was Hank Williams Jr.

The next week, I gave mom her first test. When the music started, I asked mom if she remembered who the singer was. She gave it a brief thought and then guessed, "Sammy Davis Jr."

Um. No. Not exactly.

And thus began the tradition of "Hank Williams Jr". Every Monday night during football season (there are so few exceptions, I am not sure I can think of one) my folks and I race to call each other when the MNF music starts and yell, "Hank Williams Jr!" first and then hang up. It may sound lame, but it has taken on some entertaining turns. I have received "Hank Williams Jr" phone calls from Germany and China (I can't imagine how long it took to calculate the time changes!), and they have received calls from me in college, from my first job in PA, from our home in OH, and now here in TN. I have practically grown up Hank Williams Jr-ing them, and now it warms my heart to have my sons dial the phone and yell those special words at their Pa and DiDi.

The tradition took yet another interesting turn last night though, and I just have to share it with you (and those who have wondered why I have randomly cracked up all day). Last night the phone rang and I picked it up to scream "Hank Williams Jr" at the same time as my mother. I told mom I had tried to call her a minute earlier, but the line was busy. (There are no other calls allowed except in emergency situations at 9 PM e.s.t.) Mom giggled and confessed that the game had gone slightly awry.

In a rush to beat me to it, my mom dialed the wrong number.

Some lucky man in TN received a call last night at 8 PM (central time) and picked up the phone to hear a woman yell, "Hank Williams Jr!".

Poor guy. All he could say was, "Who?" before my mom hung up on him.

You can't beat this tradition with a big stick.