Daddy Duke Nights.

Growing up, my parents had a way of making certain days feel special through little ways. I’ve continued many of these little traditions to this day with my own family. I have memories of my mama taking my sister and I to Sonic after school to get those happy hour slushies (Rt. 44 Cherry Limeaid, come at me!). We would head to El Toreo after church for our own fiesta with the family, and would discuss the sermon and what we had learned throughout the past week. My daddy would make up little jingles and songs, and we would sing them whenever the jingle applied. For instance, Dad would sing the words “peanut butter bagel” whenever he or one of us happened to be consuming one. It was only 3 words, but I can remember mornings singing “peanut butter bagel” along with dad and the rest of the crew. It was little things like this that made growing up all the more special.

One of my favorite traditions and fondest memories of growing up was Daddy Duke Night. My dad earned his masters from Duke University before I was born, so all of us kids were raised die hard Duke fans. Whenever a Duke game was airing, we would make popcorn and gather around the TV to watch. And of course, our favorite Duke games are Duke vs. UNC. The best rivalry in all of college basketball, hands down. We all would be screaming (especially mama, she really gets into the game!) and cheering the Blue Devils on, anticipating victory! When we first moved to Roanoke, J.J. Redick was the big name in Duke basketball. It just so happens that J.J. had played high school basketball in Roanoke, VA (I believe he played at Cave Spring, but correct me if I’m wrong!). I would see him in Kroger or something and think it was the best day of my life. Needless to say, I remember many nights of watching J.J. and the rest of the Blue Devils with my family. Even when I went away to Covenant College in Lookout Mtn, GA, we would travel back home for the big Duke/UNC game if we were able. Usually one of the games would fall over spring break which made it easier to come home.

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Made it home from Covenant College just in time for the big Duke v UNC game with some of the crew! – March, 2014

Since I’ve gotten married and moved further from family, Daddy Duke Nights have become something of a rarity these days. Between Jim and I working full time jobs and living 12+ hours from home, traveling back for the game just isn’t feasible. But God has a way of knowing exactly what we need right when we need it. You see, there aren’t too many Duke basketball fans that I’ve met in Mississippi. In fact, most people I meet don’t really care about basketball that much in general. The emphasis here is on football. Football this, football that. I’m probably going to lose a few friends by saying this, but I really don’t enjoy football all that much. I didn’t grow up watching it, and I’m not that interested in the games. Sorry, but felt I had to be honest about that. It’s obvious I’m not from around here! Ok, enough about football. It just so happens there is one other couple we’ve met here in Laurel who are also die hard Duke fans: Ben and Erin Napier. They were the first folks we met in Mississippi, and I heard about Laurel through Erin’s blog. Both Ben’s dad and my dad went to Duke for their masters degrees, so we’ve both been raised to love the Blue Devils. Knowing our love for Duke basketball and the fact that we “Cameron Crazies” have to stick together, the Napiers invited us over for the big Duke vs. UNC game last night.

It struck me how important traditions are in light of everything, all the change that has happened over the last year. Even though we were far from home, we could enjoy in sharing the tradition that is Duke basketball with our neighbors. Isn’t it neat how a special tradition you and your family share can become something you share with others? It’s another example of how the little things in life can make the biggest difference. Traditions can be awfully profound yet appear so simple. But I’m finding that’s true with most things in life: those meaningful, profound moments are often made up of simple, ordinary experiences. It just takes time to realize and understand how it all works together, what those small moments are building towards and so forth.

Through traditions, big or small, I create and solidify friendships. I experience community. Last night, that looked like enjoying a Duke victory over UNC (woohoo!) with new friends in their cozy home. I felt right at home sharing in this tradition, because I was experiencing a tradition created by my family. At that moment, Mississippi felt more like home than ever before. Ah, good ole’ Laurel, you truly are becoming home sweet home.

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