Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pinch, Punch, First Day of the Month

...and no returns.

Do you have any quirky traditions that almost don't make sense anymore, but you continue to hold on?

The 'pinch punch' thing I've been doing since I was a little kid. I don't even remember who started it... but I remember doing it as early as 7 or 8 on a holiday when my family was with my aunt/uncle/cousin.

Basically, on the first day of the month, whoever remembers first is allowed to pinch and punch every person they meet... and as long as they remember to say, 'and no returns', no one is allowed to pinch/punch back. If the person forgets to say it, the victim can then pinch/punch back five times in retaliation.

Definitely sounds like a kid tradition, right? Little sociopaths, every last one :)

...and I am including myself in that definition. You do have to teach kids not to beat up on others, that there are social rules they must follow, sharing, patience, all that good stuff that ensures our society doesn't descend into anarchy.

...okay, it was probably my cousin who started it.

But back to my original question... why keep this tradition when I am no longer a kid? I don't even live in the same city as my family... and I'm not going to run up to random strangers in the street and pinch/punch them (again, good stuff, no anarchy, etc, etc).

This tradition lapsed in our family for many years, and I was the one to bring it back. Though now we do it via e-mail or texting.

(my mom won this morning, emailing me at 6:54am PST, then called on the phone an hour later to gloat)

Traditions often remind us of our warm, fuzzy childhood memories when everything was safe and exciting. The old rose-coloured-glasses of the past where we forget the daily tensions and petty fights of reality.

I re-started the tradition about seven years ago when I moved from British Columbia to Alberta.

Our family (including aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents) has always been pretty close. even after my sister got married (she's the oldest of the cousins), everyone would still all get together for every single cousin's birthday.

And after I moved, I missed out. I only saw my parents a couple times a year and my extended family I only saw at Christmas.

Re-starting the first day of the month tradition was partially a way to re-connect, enjoy the goofy memories of childhood, but it was also a way to ensure I would contact them every month. Like sending a 'Thinking of you' card in the mail (or an e-card online), sometimes it's nice to lightly remind someone that you still exist without the big conversation to *catch-up*.

I think since humans develop their world-views through their experiences and memories, that having those tiny glimpses of warm, fuzzy traditions is an awesome thing to include, so they always seem to slip into my characters. Like best friends will often have certain phrases or words they use together that touch back to shared experiences, siblings and other family members will also have those secret habits or traditions that make them smile, or will defuse a tension-riddled moment. Simon & Hector (Project #2) have a couple... as do other characters in my stories.

Do you have any traditions like that? What about your characters?


  1. That is a very weird ritual. Back in middle school, we had something called "punch buggy license," but because it was one of those bad urban neighborhoods, the stakes were increased. So when a punch buggy zipped by, if you didn't quickly say "license" then you got punched in the face.
    Inevitably, a lot of fights broke out, and the way we handled THAT problem, well... that's a whole 'nother blog post.

  2. Yep, kids are really violent by nature :)

    ...we did the punch-buggy thing too, same cousin. I think she just liked to hit my sister and I ;)

  3. We did a lot of punch-buggy when I was growing up too. Nice to meet a fellow Canadian. I was raised in Saskatchewan.

  4. My family always has cold cereal parties. I love them and will never break the tradition. It's so nice not to worry about dinner. We all go to the store and pick our favorite cold cereal and then go home and chow. We've shared this party with many of our friends.

    Good post!

  5. I hadn't thought about giving my characters little traditions like that, but I love the idea!

    And I'm in your Fantasy 3 group for the Campaign, so I look forward to getting to know you and gleaning more wisdom. :)

  6. Haha, fun tradition! In my family, we call each other on the first of the month to say "Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit." Whoever says it first, wins. I have absolutely NO idea why or where it came from, but it's sure fun. :)

    In one of my fantasy novels about a seafaring nation, I talk about the crazy traditions and superstitions the crew has while preparing for a fishing contest. It was definitely fun to come up with them!

  7. @ Nicole

    Okay, the 'rabbit rabbit rabbit' thing is so completely random, I just love it :)

  8. Here in the UK, we're supposed to say 'white rabbit' early on the first day of a month with an 'r' in the word. Writing it down, it looks weird, but you can find a reference to the superstition on Wikipedia.

    Looking forward to seeing you around during the Third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign!

  9. Awwww....pinch-punch, so sweet. You'd be the family next door I envy. Tradition? What's the time line on that? I used to randomly poke my younger brother in the ribs. He grew up on high alert. Now 30 years on, he's decided to do this to me....and he's faster.

    Anyho..found you from the Writer's Platform Building Campaign. Love your blog!

  10. Hi fellow campaigner.

    Yes, I know the pinch punch thing - my kids get me with it every month!

    No returns eh? Doesn't stop me saying 'a slap and a kick for being so quick'

  11. hi there fellow campaigner,
    Thought I would pop by and say "hi" seeing as we're in the same fantasy group. Fantastic blog. I'm currently just learning how to do it so bear with me :)

  12. Little sociopaths, every last one :) LOL!

    I agree that those touchstones from our childhood are so important - which is why we pass them on to our children. Thanks for the wonderful reminder - I'll have to think of something to share with my kids this weekend!

  13. I wish our family did have traditions like yours that kept us in touch. The one I do have is that I send my mom flowers on my birthday. Now the florist says she's doing that. She loved my idea.

  14. That is SO funny! My brother and I have this ridiculous tradition around Christmas. When we were little, we received personalized ornaments. We got into a crazy thing of "hiding" the other's ornament, boasting ours was the best and forcing the other one to search the house to find theirs. Crazy. We are all grown up now. Guess what? We still do it every Christmas!


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)