On Memorial Day, my family always knew exactly what we’d be doing. Mom packed up traditional picnic fare—fried chicken, baked beans, chips, potato salad (with hard-boiled eggs), and brownies. and we went on a picnic.
Fried chicken, baked beans, chips, potato salad (with hard-boiled eggs), and, of course rich, chewy brownies. The mandatory foods for a traditional family picnic went into a wicker picnic basket, we piled into the station wagon, and headed to our picnic site—the cemetery.
I grew up thinking this was what everyone did, but now, when I share this story with friends and watch odd—okay, shocked—expressions cross their faces, I realize that perhaps some people celebrated this national holiday in other locations. Perhaps in the back yard, or poolside, or at a local park.
No Picnic in the Park for Our Family
Not us. We drove to the cemetery where our late relatives had passed to the great picnic ground in the sky when every day is Thanksgiving. You can eat all you want and your clothes never, ever shrink.
Parking near the family gravesites, we unpacked our picnic basket, unloaded lawn chairs, and while our parents planted flowers and landscaped the grounds near the headstones, we played Hide ‘n Seek and chased each other through the burial ground. What could possibly be more family friendly?
Memorial Day was called Decoration Day until the government passed a law in 1967 officially changing the name. But what’s in a name? On this holiday, we remember those who sacrificed their lives in the service of our country. It’s also the time when families and friends decorate the gravesites of their dearly departed with flowers.
Who Will Eat Baked Beans on My Grave?
As I make Memorial Day plans that include a movie and buttered popcorn and no plans for a cemetery visit, I can’t help but think ahead to the day when I’ll be permanently laid to rest. Who will pull the weeds near my headstone? Who will eat baked beans on my grave? Who will plant flowers?
Make that fresh flowers, please! I want no part of plastic petunias that belong in the same rooms as black velvet paintings of Elvis or prints of poker-playing dogs.
Hot Dogs and Cemeteries
I’ve decided I should consider purchasing a plot in one of the cemeteries that has set up concession stands. People can purchase hot dogs, sodas and snow cones while they’re paying their respects.
What a great idea!
When my nephews and their families are trying to decide which cemetery to visit on Memorial Day, it will be a no-brainer. Naturally, they’ll want to visit Aunt Susan since she’s at the cemetery with the hot dog stand.
Now if I can find a cemetery with a concession stand that also sells beer and nachos, and broadcast sports on a wide-screen TV, my family might visit me on other occasions, like Super Bowl Sunday and the Ohio State-Michigan game.