Homecoming a reminder of our past

October is the traditional month for high school homecoming celebrations, with all of the related ritual and royalty.

Homecoming football weekends offer a slice of Americana: alumni bands and balloons, pep rallies and parades, corsages and the crowning of the queen.

These customs are part of who we are.

The Beach Boys’ sang “Be True to Your School” (1963), Springsteen about the “Glory Days” (1984), and Jason Aldean of “Tattoos on this Town” (2010.) The concepts are woven into our pop culture. Our high schools aren’t just where we come from, they’re an integral part of who we are.

But almost as important as the traditions, practiced throughout the nation, is the very notion of the celebration, of being welcomed home. It’s a chance to reconnect with old friends, revisit old stomping grounds and relive old memories, and hopefully they’re all good ones.

Walk through the halls of any local high school, and you’ll probably see its history on the walls – star athletes, record-setters, championship teams, student artwork, scholarship winners, school musicals, trophies and plaques and pictures of those ever-so-important moments in time.

But for some, their high school years are ones they would rather forget.

It was time spent feeling left out while trying to fit in, or misunderstood while trying to be heard. For them, it’s probably tough to go home, no matter how grand the celebration.

For others, high school is the best they’ve ever been. A time when they were the most significant, the most confident, the most celebrated, or so it seemed.

My retired-teacher mom has said to her grandchildren, “don’t be high school rich and life poor.”

It was a reminder that as important as these moments seem at the time, they are a tiny snippet in the overall scheme of life.

It’s hard to imagine in the midst of those 10-or-so regular-season football games that a few short years from now, you may not even know if your team is home or away on a given week.

That is, until it’s your children who are taking the field, and then it’s the most important thing in the world all over again.

While there’s only one homecoming queen, one quarterback, one captain, every student is part of their class. And there is only one “Class of 2017” for every high school in the region, and only one class of 1997 or 1967.

No matter what you remember about high school – good or bad – that’s something you’ll be part of forever, and something that you and your classmates will always share.

So, when the memories of wins and losses, triumphs and disappointments fade, what remains is a feeling – the feeling of being part of something special.

It’s being true to your school during those glory days, and painting tattoos on your town.

That feeling alone is reason to come home and celebrate.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.