cabo san lucas, part III

{making a tribe.}

while in cabo i was reading and looking through the latest edition of kinfolk. i felt an immense connection to the words by rebecca parker payne when she talks about making a tribe.

so…. for this post, i am doing something new – i am going to quote her entire article, with our pictures. they don’t relate. and yet they do relate. she talks about traditional childhood memories in respect to hunting down the perfect christmas tree in the blue ridge mountains. my pictures are from a few of my favorite days in cabo san lucas, one of our holiday traditions. we have been going to mexico for the holidays, or a family vacation at least once a year {sometimes twice} for ten years this year. we have not only come to adore our time south of the border, but this place gives us something to remember our time by, something to look forward to, something to have that is special, something ours. enjoy.


Sometime in early December, somewhere within the hollers of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you could find us, wandering and weaving through long lines of pines and evergreens. Four siblings, our faithful dogs, and daring captains: Mom and Dad. Our finest yearly tradition was born from the pinnacle of our mother and father’s parenting career — their discovery of Christmas tree farms deep along the sloping ridges of the mountains. A mere two hours from our home, the hillside farms were light-years from the commercialism and consumerism that we lived among.

pueblo bonito sunset beach via seejaneblog

sela and pengu

So every year we pilgrimaged to the Blue Ridge, to climb a mountainside and bring home the war-won tree. Our father, with verbal encouragement from his brood of children, pulled the tree down the hill, across a tiny creek, and perched it like an arbor trophy on the top of our faithful Suburban. It would be hailed “A Christmas victory!” by my father, despite the frozen, mittened hands, the carsick dogs, and the arduous process.

pueblo bonito Rose via seejaneblog

banana boat in cabo

Traditions peppered our childhood lives, and the holidays meant they were only more salient. Something to remember our time by, something to look forward to, something to have that was special — something ours.

Our holiday season was characterized by these wild expressions of togetherness. In our tree travails, in our trips to Colonial Williamsburg to eat in the fire-lit taverns of yesteryear, in baking our apple-sausage quiches, in our matching Christmas bell necklaces. My siblings and I jingled as we danced through the holiday season.

smash ball volleyball in cabo

We grew up unaware that our yearly routines were sowing and tending traditions. The rituals engulfed and enveloped us, and our youthful naiveté told us that this was just life — how our holidays were done. Only with age, and a healthy dose of selflessness, have we seen that this rhythm of delight and anticipation is the careful and thoughtful product of a family or parents that want to experience life together.

day six in cabo

Because now, so much of our holidays are only remembering. I remember the food, I remember the traditions, and I remember the traditions revolving around food. I remember a few of the gifts, but with the most clarity I remember caroling on the back of a trolley, and tenderly pressing a cookie cutter into soft dough. I remember the brunches and the dinners, I remember the stillness, and I remember that feeling of warmth, closeness, unbounded joy. We number our memories, rewind and replay the moments that gave our holidays their meaning.

football on the beach in cabo

Now that I live independently, away from my childhood home, I find myself expecting the same rhythms, that the ones that comprised my youthful holidays, to be the footprint for this year’s upcoming season. I remember it all, and still I want it to be the same. But things have changed. I haven’t lived with my parents for years, which means they are no longer the leaders they once were of my holiday season. I do not have the abundant free time I did as a child, with which to make snowmen out of laundry detergent, or to hand-dip candles.

myla and cason playing football

And this is where we are now, in this particular age. We are always busy, always moving from this to that, here to there. We are young and filled. We understand why we had traditions, and should be thankful for them. We can even feel a draw to mourn the end of childhood traditions. All is right and expected of our growth and maturation, but we do not stay here. We are adults, and we are, in our best selves, independent, vibrant, thriving, and capable.

my girls running on the beach

Holidays can take us in two directions. We can buy the presents, go to the parties, open the presents, clean the tissue paper from the floor. A dutiful ascension to an idea, a complacency to the expected. A casual nod to the time-honored celebrations, created outside of us. and we drift around each other in this harried time of giving and getting, making and doing.

Or, we can take the traditions into our homes, draw them through the sieve of our personalities, sprinkle them with whimsy, mold them to our own relationships. In doing so, we hold a respectful ownership of the season, where it cannot exist outside of us. Indeed, we are the daring captains of wonder and nearness in this time. And through our efforts, the holidays become intensely intimate, a seasonal experience tailored and defined by us who celebrate — our friends, our families, and our own children.

brevin with the ball

This is how we measure the depth of our bated breath. This is how we calculate the expectancy of our hearts. This existence of our families and friendships are not entirely dependent on the existence of such activities and traditions, but the sustenance of such rituals is the soil in which we cultivate a deeper sense of commitment, history, and meaning. A group of casual friends becomes a community, a family becomes a tribe.

lots of girls in cabo

A few months ago, I started a new family altogether. A small family with tender roots. A family of just me and my man. A man with his own traditions, his own idiosyncratic holiday routines from growing up. He is the grown man that is memorialized in family photos up till about four years ago, sitting on his parents’ stairs with his brothers, each sibling wearing matching pajamas. And although we don’t have the same traditions, we both understand their role in making meaning of the holidays and our lives together. And we want to be a tribe.

In this place of adulthood, as a new family and as one-day future parents, we will cultivate a reason for hope and joy in all of our holidays seasons to come. I think it will involve long tables of food, homemade eggnog, and cranberry pies. It will involve storytelling and song singing. It will involve days of baking, and days of decorating. It will involve quietly lighting advent candles, and loudly spinning records. It will involve our community of friends and family, and it will be extravagant and hilarious and ours. It may even invalid a borrowed tradition, a hauling of a tree down the side of a mountain.

sisterhood in cabo


cheers to making a tribe.

{all photos by me, Jane Beckner Rhodes}

2 responses to “cabo san lucas, part III”

  1. I love this, Jane! Reading this and seeing your vacation pictures is inspiring me to start some new traditions – we have only one more year after this with Benjamin, our oldest. Thank you for being such a creative thinker – you are helping people to make meaningful connections to those closest to them. Happy New Year!

  2. Thats pic of sela on the blow up whale is definitley one that needs to be framed! priceless. Love mylas tan lines hehe.

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