|My mom's backyard, Easter 2010|
From my admittedly limited newcomer understanding, it dates back to the 18th century, when political foes agree to bury the hatchet (literally) after a hard-fought political campaign season.
And indeed, that's exactly what they do. There's a "hatchet toss" and speeches and a parade where former rivals ride together in carriages straight out of Cinderella. Despite the awkward feelings and emotions that such a day can dredge up, Return Day is reportedly a very dignified, civil, respectful kind of day.
I say "reportedly" because I've never been to Return Day, which is today (and it is pouring rain), so what I know about it comes to me secondhand from coworkers who have been there and news accounts of this unusual post-election tradition.
Still, I just love the concept of extending the olive branch to former rivals (political or otherwise) and that there is a specific day to do so. I am the sort of person who likes to - no, kind of needs to - remain in contact with and on speaking terms with everyone I've ever said hello to in my life. I think it's because of a need to have people in one's life who knew you once upon a time, in a different incarnation, when you were being formed into the person you would become.
But that's not how everyone is. Most people, I think, seem to have a "live and let live" mentality and can happily go the rest of their days living with calcified grudges.
I'm sure we can all think of someone who we'd like to extend an olive branch to, someone who we need to make amends with. Once upon a time, I needed to do this. A complicated and rocky relationship was made so by issues that we didn't quite know how best to navigate under the circumstances we found ourselves in. In hindsight, it wasn't our fault and from the vantage point of perspective, I know now that we were just doing the best we could.
So there was the inevitable falling out and years of silence, and then a life-changing "shit, life's way too short for this bullshit" kind of experience where I extended the olive branch. All I wanted was to say thank you - for being there, for doing the best one could. I was scared to death to do so.
In this particular case, the olive branch was received and accepted. I believe my message of gratitude was heard. I will forever be grateful for that, even though a second falling out eventually occurred and remains to this day. (You might say that based on this post a second olive branch should be extended. Perhaps. But this one isn't mine to offer.)
Still, there aren't any regrets, about any of it.
Just a sense of peace in return.
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