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Fromcoincidencetocherishedroutine:developingpersonaltraditions

Ciara Wardlow
Ciara Wardlow Arts Editor, The Wellesley News
9mo Wellesley, MA, United States Story
From coincidence to cherished routine: developing personal traditions

Winter break is my favorite break. It’s between semesters, so it actually feels like a break, but it’s also short enough that I don’t feel a desperate need to find something significant to do with my time, like I do in the summer. Of course, there are still things to be done and plans to be made, but nonetheless it’s the break that I find best lives up to the title of “break.” But, to get to the point, what I really want to write about today has to do with one of the things I am doing with this precious, rare free time.


Every year during the holidays I re-read Willa Cather’s Lucy Gayheart. It’s a personal tradition that came about by accident. I can’t actually remember when it started, only that I realized I read the book around the same time every year three years ago and at that point decided to make a conscious effort to continue. If I had to take a guess, I would say that this is probably my sixth year of re-reading Lucy Gayheart, but I’m not entirely sure. It might have been five or seven. Regardless, when it started doesn’t really matter, only that it continues, because every year I find that reading it takes on more and more significance. Every year, I take away something different from the story, which ultimately tells me just as much about where I am, personally, as it does about the novel.

The special thing about a personal tradition like this is that it’s not dependent on anyone else—times change, relationships change, people relocate, drift apart, etc., etc., etc.—it’s completely reliable, and totally under my control. I have absolutely no excuse for missing it—I can read it anywhere, at any time, even if I forget my copy, because it is under public domain and therefore available for free online. Then again, I also have no intention of missing it, because the year wouldn’t feel complete without reading Lucy Gayheart. And I, for one, am really, really, really ready for 2016 to be over and done with.

Does anyone else have any personal traditions? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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6 comments

  • jessiex
    jessiex Mogul at Wellesley President
    9mo ago

    Hmm maybe I should start a personal tradition because it sounds like you really take away a lot from it

    Hmm maybe I should start a personal tradition because it sounds like you really take away a lot from it

  • dimond123angel
    9mo ago

    What is Lucy Gayheart about?

    What is Lucy Gayheart about?

    • Ciara Wardlow
      Ciara Wardlow Arts Editor, The Wellesley News
      9mo ago

      The thing about Lucy Gayheart is that if someone else told me what it was about, I would never have guessed I would like it at all--I only read it because it's by Willa Cather, my favorite author. She's much more of a character-driven than plot-driven writer, so it's hard to synopsize her work. But basically, it's about a young woman (Lucy Gayheart) from small-town Illinois who goes to Chicago to study music around the turn of the 20th century and all the various people in her life. But, to give you a sense of Cather's writing, here's a quote: "Nothing had ever made Sebastian admit to himself that his youth was forever and irrevocably gone. He had clung to a secret belief that he would pick it up again, somewhere. This was a time of temporary lassitude and disillusion, but his old feeling about life would come back; he would turn a corner and confront it. He would waken some morning and step out of bed the man he used to be."

      The thing about Lucy Gayheart is that if someone else told me what it was about, I would never have guessed I would like it at all--I only read it because it's by Willa Cather, my favorite author. She's much more of a character-driven than plot-driven writer, so it's hard to synopsize her work. But basically, it's about a young woman (Lucy Gayheart) from small-town Illinois who goes to Chicago to study music around the turn of the 20th century and all the various people in her life. But, to give you a sense of Cather's writing, here's a quote: "Nothing had ever made Sebastian admit to himself that his youth was forever and irrevocably gone. He had clung to a secret belief that he would pick it up again, somewhere. This was a time of temporary lassitude and disillusion, but his old feeling about life would come back; he would turn a corner and confront it. He would waken some morning and step out of bed the man he used to be."

  • Kittie
    9mo ago

    one of my new years resolutions is actually to create a personal tradition! do you have any tips on how to maintain the tradition?

    one of my new years resolutions is actually to create a personal tradition! do you have any tips on how to maintain the tradition?

    • Ciara Wardlow
      Ciara Wardlow Arts Editor, The Wellesley News
      9mo ago

      Pick something that's manageable and flexible--Lucy Gayheart is a pretty short novel (I could probably read it in a 2-3 hour sitting, though I tend to spread it out across a couple days)--and, if possible, something that you've already established some habit of doing. I didn't pick Lucy Gayheart because it was my favorite novel--it's one of my favorites, but I don't know if I would consider it my all-time favorite--but because I realized I had already re-read it multiple times over a multiple year period, and decided to start making a conscious effort to read it annually. Hope that helps!

      Pick something that's manageable and flexible--Lucy Gayheart is a pretty short novel (I could probably read it in a 2-3 hour sitting, though I tend to spread it out across a couple days)--and, if possible, something that you've already established some habit of doing. I didn't pick Lucy Gayheart because it was my favorite novel--it's one of my favorites, but I don't know if I would consider it my all-time favorite--but because I realized I had already re-read it multiple times over a multiple year period, and decided to start making a conscious effort to read it annually. Hope that helps!

  • Kittie
    9mo ago

    one of my new years resolutions is actually to create a personal tradition! do you have any tips on how to maintain the tradition?

    one of my new years resolutions is actually to create a personal tradition! do you have any tips on how to maintain the tradition?


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Ciara Wardlow
Arts Editor, The Wellesley News

Sophomore at Wellesley College majoring in Biological Sciences and Cinema & Media Studies. Wellesley News Arts Editor, WCTV Technical Director, and Film Society Treasurer. Intern at Film School Rejects.

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