Fifth grade is a time of wonder.

Middle school opens all sorts of doors. Of course, choosing which ones to open is the secret to life, but that initial realization of glory – the good stuff – that is there for the taking of youth has the potential to be beautiful thing.

I saw that glimmer in my youngest daughter’s eyes a few weeks back.

“Tuesday is 50s Day and we’ve got Crazy Socks Day too,” she said. “It’s Spirit week.”

A few years ago, my older daughter went through the same gyrations for her first Homecoming Week at school. As I watched her demolish any semblance of organization in her sock drawer, I remembered all those years ago when we too celebrated the esteemed tradition of Crazy Sock Day.

“Today was Crazy Hat Day,” she said as she tossed socks right and left. “But I forgot all about it.”

Ah, Crazy Hat Day. I remembered that too.

And Western Day.

Those Days haven’t changed as much as one would expect.

I realized those Days still had some inexplicable power. What some administrator probably considered as silliness did the job that it was suppose to do. Somehow, those Days ignited the flame of school spirit – which, in my little town and my family’s little home, was right up there close to the Holy Spirit.

As my daughter’s search for Crazy Socks continued, I realized that from her distant fifth-grade post, she was trying her school spirit on for size. I nodded ash she chatted and remembered the forgotten joy of convincing my parents to let me have .25 to buy one of the ribbons the cheerleaders were selling – and my subsequent pride in the wearing.

Watching my not-so-little girl settle on one blue froggy sock and one pink monkey sock, I was jolted into the realization of something I’ve known for decades but never put into words before: Homecoming is not as much about coming home as it is about creating roots. It’s about building relationships to the people who will have known you when you were young. It’s about building a connection to a place that you will remember as an anchor of your youth.

- Jan Risher

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