Monday, January 7, 2013

If it's Sunday in Pittsburgh

One of my favorite movies is “Roommates,” starring the late Peter Falk.   The movie never made it big and was not valued in the eyes of movie critics.  But I loved it.

It’s based on the true story of a Polish baker in Pittsburgh, who at the age of 70 raises his young orphaned grandson and puts him through medical school.

In his crusty, curmudgeonly and delightfully humorous way, he loves and cares for his grandson through awkward moments of adolescents, the upheavals of puberty, the turbulent teenage years, the college experimental experience and of course, the grandson’s falling in love for the first time.  

How does the grandfather manage to stay connected to his grandson? 
Well, his strategy is to bake cookies together every Sunday night.  It starts out simple enough, but becomes the one bonding experience through all the changes of life.  They could feel and literally taste the ritual of making cookies together.

As the story unfolds, you begin to see the quiet transition and reversals of roles in the relationship. By the end of the film, the grandson cares for his aged grandfather and they become roommates again.

The story closes with the passing of the grandfather.   But the tradition, the experience, the ritual of baking cookies lives on in the life of the grandson’s family and children. In the final scene in the movie you see the grandson baking cookies while his own son asks, “Why?”   He smiles and replies, “Why if it’s Sunday in Pittsburgh, it time to bake cookies.”

After seeing that movie we started a different family tradition at our house.  Every Sunday night, I would make homemade pizza. Our children loved it and would often say, “If it’s Sunday, it’s pizza night.”  

I wonder what kind of family traditions and little rituals you have in your home?  Something as simple as cookies or pizza may not seem very significant at the time, but through the years could become part of our treasured memories. And if you don’t have a tradition, have you ever thought about starting one?  It’s never too late.

Not long ago, our son, Andy, who is now the father of twins, called on Sunday night. We actually get to FaceTime on our iPhones.   He asked Corrine, “What’s Dad doing?”  And she replied, “It’s Sunday night… he’s making pizza!”

Like Tevya of old knew, it is tradition that keeps the fiddler on the roof. In this ever changing world, I hope you can fiddle on the roof. And bake some cookies while you’re at it.

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