05/29/16

Making Memorial Day Memorable

Happy Memorial Day!

It is important to make family traditions centered around meaningful holidays, such as Memorial Day.

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I don’t remember Memorial Day, in particular, when I was a child, except  my mom and dad would pin a red poppy made out of paper on her blouse and his shirt. I learned later the red poppy was a symbol of remembering those who had died in battle and was based on a World War I poem.

I remember fondly, the activities surrounding the times when my mom and dad had a holiday or vacation time off from work. There were traditions in place we could count on to happen and important enough to interrupt our usual routine.

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There was the traditional family picnic during  the holidays that came during the summer or warm weather months. We didn’t have a cookout or a Barbeque, as is now the tradition, but a good old fashion picnic that took place at a roadside park.

Remember those? Maybe not. Mom made sandwiches. Your choice pimento cheese or egg salad. And for those brave enough to try it…. sardine sandwiches. Bet you never had one of those………me either. And it wasn’t a picnic without a can of Van Camp’s Pork and Beans. The can was opened at the picnic sight and the beans were eaten cold.There could be sliced cantaloupe, pickles, and always watermelon for dessert.

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My dad had quite the ceremony for slicing  the watermelon, cutting eight slices, one for each family member. He brought along the big, big knife and old newspapers to put under the watermelon as it was being cut.. I never saw my mom given the honor. It was always dad. The melon had been chosen based on size and color. I can remember spending a good bit of time at the produce stand while dad chose the “right” one.

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The watermelon was cut in half, then each half was halved and then that was halved. It worked out to 8 pieces. A box of Morton’s was brought along for those that wanted salt on their piece. There was plenty of seed spitting and melon eaten to the rind. My two brothers would sometimes take off their shirts to allow the juice to run down their chest instead of their clothes. My sisters and I just ate carefully. This was before the days of handi wipes. Is there any anything as sticky as watermelon juice?

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After a cleanup of our faces and hands from the water fountain, we would get back in the station wagon to go to a nearby town. My grandmother was waiting on us to take her to the cemeteries. One was a very old family cemetery. To get there, dad would drive the station wagon slowly down a dirt road and watched closely to avoid the deep ruts rain water had made over the years. When we got there, grandmother would pull weeds and wipe tears from her eyes as she remembered each loved one she had lost. I don’t know if any had died in battle, but pretty sure some had been in the military. So many questions I have now, that I wished I had known to ask of those who had the answers.

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Late afternoon, we would leave grandmother’s, tired from the holiday, but with anticipation for the next. It might include another trip to the cemetery or not. But for sure there would be a picnic.

 

Bonus reading…… To make the chair toppers, go to Dollar General and purchase Bandanas. They come with 2 in the package; one red and one blue. Turn inside out and fold bandana in half. It doesn’t matter which end as they are square. Stitch the two sides adjusting seam size to fit your chairs. They should be snug, but not too difficult to put on. Turn right side and place over chair. Instant decorating. Each topper takes less than a minute to make.

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