Memorial Day is a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered, traditionally observed on May 30 but now officially observed on the last Monday in May. It also used to be known as Decoration Day.
I genuinely had no idea that is was known as Decoration Day, but now it means so much to me. My side of our family typically just had a party of sorts (think July 4th), but coming in to Chris’ family, this holiday weekend has become such a grand tradition and a favorite part of our year.
For Memorial Day weekend, our family travels to a small town in NC and we all stay in the city with each other, visiting and enjoying the company while we bring food and kids together. The most special part of this tradition is what we call “decoration” (and now it makes sense to me!). Decoration is where we all trek to an old cemetery where most of grandma’s family is buried. We walk around, spending a few hours here, and literally decorate their graves. My mother-in-law makes these beautiful floral arrangements with wreaths and vases and we proudly display these – each made with the deceased’s personality and life in mind. We also place smaller flowers around the graves, which the kids and little ones love to do.
After the decoration we all head back to our grandma’s sister’s home and bust out the goods (food). Delicious cakes, desserts, side dishes and main courses are all spread out on a big table and we just go around buffet style. We sit on the porch that is absolutely huge, going around the whole front and side of the house, overlooking their yard that is full of beautiful roses (that the kids love to sneak and pick).
While it can be a sad time, remembering those family members and seeing the care and love that is shared throughout is worth every moment. It is a tradition we hope to carry on even after our elders pass on. It is so nice to be able to teach and learn about our family history, see those that we don’t get to see very often, and just enjoy the spring weather.
While I highly encourage your family to do something similar, I also gather some favorite ways to spend Memorial Day:
- Host a barbeque
- Find a local parade to see
- Go to a local state or county park
- Visit a veteran park/memorial
- Get crafty with some red, white and blue decorations
- Go for a nice bike ride (May is also National Bike Month)
- Enjoy a picnic (even in your own yard!)
- Go for a swim
I hope that you, your family and your friends find a great way to celebrate – and maybe even start something new!