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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Pilgrimage

by Lisa Bullard

12_31BikerLegEvery year, thou­sands of bik­ers road trip to Stur­gis (South Dako­ta) to cel­e­brate their shared pas­sion for motor­cy­cles. For some of them, atten­dance is an eager­ly antic­i­pat­ed annu­al tra­di­tion that holds the same pow­er found in spir­i­tu­al rit­u­als.

One year my friend and I were caught unawares in the mid­dle of the expe­ri­ence. We had trav­eled to South Dako­ta with­out know­ing about the pil­grim­age of believ­ers, but as we came clos­er to our des­ti­na­tion, the grow­ing num­ber of bik­ers, thick as plagues of locusts at gas sta­tions, forced us to piece togeth­er the clues. It turned into one of the most illu­mi­nat­ing of our many road trips togeth­er. After all, it’s not every day that out­siders such as us are allowed a glimpse into secret cer­e­mo­ni­al rites involv­ing fur-cov­ered bras and leather chaps.

And we had good rea­son to know we had noth­ing to fear from the bik­ers, how­ev­er odd­ly they were adorned: “Most of them are den­tists in real life,” the local news­pa­per assured us.

Appar­ent­ly even den­tists love an excuse to leave the reg­u­lar world behind and cel­e­brate with their own kind. So I draw on that fact for one of my more reli­able cre­ative writ­ing prompts—one that works even on those dead­ly just- before-vaca­tion or just-back-from-break days when stu­dents are com­plete­ly dis­tract­ed.

Name­ly, I ask stu­dents to invent their own hol­i­day. I ask them to write about the rea­son their hol­i­day exists and the spe­cial tra­di­tions that sur­round it. When is their hol­i­day? What foods are eat­en? What cos­tumes are worn? What rit­u­als take place? Are gifts exchanged? Are there figures such as San­ta Claus that play a promi­nent role?

Hope­ful­ly you’ll find, as I have, that stu­dents real­ly enjoy chan­nel­ing their pre- or post-hol­i­day ener­gy into cre­at­ing their own imag­ined visions for “the best cel­e­bra­tion ever.”

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