Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend: An American Holiday; A Northeastern Holiday

Living with a southerner, I have to annually explain the importance of Memorial Day Weekend. According to him, in Texas Memorial Day is just another day... like Columbus Day or President's Day. Yes, we all know the technical reason for the holiday - remembering the men and women who have died serving in the armed forces - but he doesn't quite understand why northerners go bonkers with celebrations this weekend.  Granted, our celebrations are seemingly unrelated to the actual point of the holiday, which may not be very honorable of us up here in the northeast, but for us, Memorial Day serves a dual purpose.

Summers are a precious fleeting moment in the lives of those north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The cycle of misery approaches at the beginning of school as Labor Day indicates the end of the summer season. We bear the wind, the loss of color in our world, the rains, and then the snow. We freeze, we brace against more wind, and some years blizzards. Finally we start to thaw, but it is always an unpredictable time in our lives. One day it may be sunny and 50 degrees, the next it might be 55 with torrential downpours, the next we are back in the low 40s. The snow melts, the sandy roads are left stained brown. The grass slowly turns from a matted yellow-green to dull green to vibrant green each time it rains. The trees bud and we grow giddy. Summer is coming.

April showers bring May flowers and school work suddenly becomes less serious, parents plan summer programs for their children, the shorts and skirts come out, and bathing suits are purchased. Propane tanks are filled, patio umbrellas assembled, outdoor furniture is cleaned, boats are put back in their respective bodies of water and backyard pools are opened. The gardens get weeded and mulched, and suddenly it is time. Prayers for sunshine start and Memorial Day Weekend arrives.

After 9 long months BBQs are scheduled leading friends and family to assemble. Grills are rolled out, beer is purchased and placed in coolers, and blenders are put on the counter next to the line up of daiquiri and pina colada mix. Let the celebrations begin, for summer is back again!

Note: This is my take on the holiday, I am particularly fond of summer and particularly unfond of winter. I also claim no knowledge or understanding about how the holiday is viewed in other parts of the country aside from the northeast and what Howie tells me of Texas.  

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