I wish all holidays were as clear to their purpose as Arbor Day. Plant a tree, couldn't be easier. Christmas and Easter get obfuscated through the lens of secularism and commercialism. The Fourth of July seems clear enough, but, nobody studies history anymore, so the reason for it seems to be nothing more than an excuse to blow off fireworks and an occasional finger.
Labor Day, who knows. Earth Day, hippie day, right? We know what to do on Thanksgiving, eat, oh, and give thanks, but, do we know why? Ask any first grader and you will get a doozy of an answer about Native Americans, Pilgrims and pie, and here, oddly enough, a dissertation on pumpkins and mazes. Yes, "mazes," apparently American Indians invented the corn maze, according to Zack.
I could go on but I think you get my point.
Today is Memorial Day. Nick asked me last night what we were supposed to do on this day and ... uh, well, I had to look it up. Wiki says " Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces."
Right. And, what, like one-percent of the population does that? I know there are parades and the like, here in our hometown there is a parade. They throw candy of of floats sponsored by local businesses, the band plays anything-but-Sousa-marches - Star Wars theme songs, and crappy renditions of pop crap - and the local elementary kids decorate their bikes with crepe paper and red, white and blue whirligigs made in China.
Knowing we had a three day weekend and that it was going to be cool this weekend, I got the camper out, popped it up, and the boys and I slept in it the last couple of nights. We played a lot of baseball and soccer in the backyard, had a fire, roasted wienies and generally goofed off.
Here are some highlights:
They are "craftsmen crafting," at least that is what Nick said. It pretty much amounted to them pulling shit out from behind the shed and beating on it, peeling bark, getting splinters and generally making a mess of themselves and the yard.
At one point, Marci and I were watching the fire and Nick came over and gave her a rose from the bush by the shed. There was some fighting a little later and she went back and Zack wanted to give her a rose as well, but there was some confusion involving Nick and ... well, I still don't get it, but, Mom ended up with two cute little roses.
They are hanging from a chip-clip drying on the fridge right now:
A few minutes later Zack, riding piggy-back on Mom's back (again I'm at a loss as to why), came and gave me something from the crafting project they had been working on.
Remember when Charlie Brown and the gang went Halloweening and all he got was a rock. Well, I got a brick, this brick:
On the top there, written, primitive man style in charcoal, it says "Father" and on the front it says simply, "I love you."
Beats the hell out of her roses, dontcha think?
Anyway, I am not trying to be down about this holiday, nor do I question its validity, but for a generation not torn apart by world wars, it seems a little, well, distant. Someday, after the boys have had the horrors of war and the slaughter and grief it rains on society explained (if that's even possible) to them, maybe then I will take on the solemnity and the true meaning of this day. Perhaps we will go to a Memorial or two, see the parade in the right light, make this day into the proper Remembrance Day it started out as.
But for now, we will roast hot dogs and beat on logs and sleep in the camper and write on bricks and present roses and we will do all these things in the quiet freedom of our own backyard.
The quiet freedom that men and women sacrificed their lives to afford us.
Maybe, just maybe, we are celebrating this day right. Celebrating our freedom, our wealth, our prosperity, our love and our lives, all made possible because others knew we should be able to.
And maybe, I get it more than I thought I did.
From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."
"That was this morning, when I was a monk."
Well, there you have it...