Today is the last day of my summer vacation. I’ll miss the beach house—my inlaws’ house—the view off the deck, long walks on the beach at low tide, waking to the sound of surf and wind, re-reading the Outlander series on the deck. And I’ll miss Bunny World.Reading on the Deck

We’d been vacationing near Cannon Beach, Oregon, for many years before we saw the first bunny. I’m not sure who spotted it in the grass alongside the road that winds through Tolovana Park, but my husband and kids and I were all elated.

After the first spotting, there were many more, until that stretch of road came to be known as “Bunny World,” and counting the bunnies became part of the vacation tradition.

Traditions are strange. We have many beach traditions. We eat at the same three restaurants over and over (“Lather, rinse, repeat,” we call it). We snack on summer sausage, a food we almost never eat any other time. We frequent Cannon Beach’s tiny library, where volunteers are sometimes unsure of how to check out books, making me suspect that this is an unusual occurrence in a town dominated by tourist activity.

These traditions are part of my children’s history, things they’ll take for granted, as if all people have always done things that way. If they do things differently with their children, it will feel uneasy to them, as if something is missing. Because traditions are hard to undo once they take root.

And yet the oddest thing is that traditions come from nowhere.

One day, there were no bunnies, and one day, there were bunnies. And not too long after that, as we were driving through Cannon BeachTolovana, my husband made the sound of a large piece of machinery slipping into gear, and declared in a mechanized voice:

“Entering Bunny World. Engaging Bundar. Bundar engaged. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.”

Now every time we go through Bunny World, we engage Bundar, which beeps like sweeping radar until it spots a bunny, whereupon it says, in its chilly digital way:

“Ding ding ding ding ding. Bunny count: 1.”

And so on. We’ve hit 18, believe it or not, with much laughter, and screeching, and celebrating. I wish I had bunny photos for you, but we’ve never managed to photograph even a single member of this weird assortment of little white domestic and big fat brown rabbits. Still, we’re pretty sure we’re not hallucinating the phenomenon, because one homeowner in Bunny World has several ceramic bunnies on his front lawn. These bunnies, by the way, frequently cause a bunny false alarm, complete with loud, three-strikes-and-you’re-out buzzer.

When it’s time to leave Bunny World, we say:

“Exiting Bunny World. Disengaging Bundar. Final Bunny Count: 11. Thank you for using Bundar. Bundar disengaged. Have a nice day.”

Why? Because we’ve always done it that way. And somehow it doesn’t matter that always isn’t very long. It feels like forever.

It feels like tradition.

What is your favorite family tradition?


3 Responses to “The Beach, Bunnies, and How Traditions Are Made”
  1. Cherri Porter says:

    So true.

    My kid is willing to say “we always do this” after one time. He’s very attached to any semblance of tradition.

    My sister, who is near 40, has a near panic attack if any holiday traditions are out of whack. Very important.

    And yet, my husband and I both have a really hard time with keeping up traditions. Not sure what it is, but we’ve thought about it a lot.

  2. This cracked me up–our subdivision is FULL of bunnies & we compete to see how many each person can spot on the a.m. drive to school. It’s so true what you say about family traditions. They’re ingrained & occasionally absurd & we often do them w/out thinking about them until a friend or visitor gives you a mild WTF look 🙂

  3. Laurie G says:

    The first weekend of July we spend in my Wisconsin hometown with any of my 4 children and their families that are free to attend. We walk and bike along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. A few brave souls go swimming. We watch the fireworks at a local park. We celebrate my anniversary and my daughter’s at the Lighthouse Inn where we each had our wedding receptions 30 years apart. We play cards and board games, we laugh and enjoy being a family.

    We see a lot of deer!

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