We Made a Boat

Last night we built a boat. It's a viking burial-at-sea boat, and we're going to use it in the funeral for 2017 on New Year's Eve.

This is a tradition now. It's traditional because I said so, and my friends agreed, and that's how a tradition starts. I think my peers, friends, and people of my generation, with our divorced parents, stepkids, tenuous living conditions and unstable employment, are longing for some traditions.

A job change, housing change or relationship change, though it may be welcome, wanted and long hoped for, can be a huge disruption to your life. It can shatter routines and leave you spinning in circles with no idea what to do next. I and almost all my close friends have gone through one or more of these big changes this year – and last year – and the year before that as well. We just do it, and get on with life as if it was no big deal, but we're all still working through the fallout of things that happened years ago.

Traditions have rules and procedures. The rules and procedures can change, grow, or shrink as needed, but the point is that everyone should know what's expected of them and have a clear path to follow. They bring us together as a community, strengthen and heal us together. And they don't have to be based on holidays that Hallmark invented in the fifties. All that's required is at least one person to keep the ball rolling each year, and a couple others to agree to come push.

The Viking Boat tradition goes like this. Somewhere in the dead week between Christmas and New Year's, we get a pile of cardboard. We meet at someone's house. We make a little boat out of papier-mache. On New Year's Eve, we take it down to the water, put it out to sea, and set it on fire. 

This year the cardboard was bike boxes from North Park. The location was my parent's house. The people there were two old friends, three new friends, my parents, one friend of their's who was there for unrelated reasons, and me. I made each person draw me a picture of what they thought a boat looks like. That way even if the boat doesn't come out quite the way anyone expected, we still get to see their vision. The pictures get burned in the boat as well. 

We painted it with dollar-store acrylic paint and tacked it together with finishing nails my dad found in the garage. It's honestly kinda front-heavy and might not float super good, so we're probably going to build it a little raft.

The Vikings used to burn warriors with all their weapons and wealth around them to go into the next world. I think we're going to burn 2017 with all the things we're ready to let go of. I've got to find something that represents self-pity, excuses and fear. That or a picture of an Oompa Loompa. Anyway, happy new year. Hope it was a good one. 

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