Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Mary Engelbreit Cherries

The meaning of Memorial Day is: a public holiday to commemorate soldiers who died in war, observed on the last Monday in May.

Did you do anything wonderful this Memorial Day weekend?

When I was a child, Memorial Day meant that my dad had a three day weekend, and my mother and we kids would get ready for company to arrive. We would prepare for weeks in advance, and since there were five of us, we all had our jobs to do. We would clean and help with the food. I don’t remember ever minding because we would get to see our family from Oklahoma. That meant our mother’s mom and dad and sometimes her sisters and their families.

None of our guests got hotel rooms. Our two bedrooms were turned over to the grownups and all of the kids had lots of floor space. It seemed like the floor pallets went from wall to wall, and we would make our beds out of "overall quilts" (which were made out of miscellaneous jeans and my Grandpas overalls). And we still had plenty of quilts to cover up with. My maternal grandmother was a scrap quilter, and my mother inherited the love of quilting from her. And heaven knows, she had enough scraps from all of the many pieces of clothing that she made for others. So they would make quilts. I remember sitting as a child cutting the threads as my Mother sewed each block in a line, (my mother was taught this by her mother, too) and then ironing each square for her. I learned to iron from ironing quilt blocks.

As we got older, we would plan our Memorial holiday around a little trip to Oklahoma and a family reunion. We would stop at the cemetery first to visit our grandparents, aunts, uncles and baby brother’s graves, and Mom always had an arrangement of flowers to put on each of their graves. Then we would head off to the lake for swimming, fishing, cooking, eating, and cleaning up.