When I was growing up, we always had hamburgers and hot dogs, or homemade fried chicken, with homemade potato salad, watermelon, corn on the cob, and homemade cookies. Oh, and the extra treat: Kool-Aid, instead of milk! The adults had sun tea, made in an old pickle jar.
We’d have our picnic at the local park, if the weather was nice, or inside, if it was hot. We didn’t live near a beach back then. My dad would put out the flag on our house, and all the neighbors would do so, as well. It was a reminder that this wasn’t just a family-fun weekend; the holiday had meaning. Being a WWII vet, my dad remembered a lot on that day.
Now that I have a family of my own, we follow in my parents’ footsteps, with a few adjustments. When the boys were little, we’d go to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and eat all the old favorites. I would bake a cake instead of cookies. As my sons got older, we moved our picnic to the beach. Those were the best times. The boys would boogie-board until the burgers were ready, and then they’d come in, dripping and laughing, and eating like starving wolves.
Often it was overcast, and cold, and each year it got more and more crowded, until we decided to return to the backyard picnic. We lived near a park then, so we’d have our party, and, while the adults lolled about like lazy seals after the meal, the boys would get their air soft guns and join up with friends at the park. Or, if there were too many people to play safely, they’d opt for the pool instead.
Once my mom died, it was up to me to supply the potato salad, and all the fixings. The family was smaller, and friends moved away. Girlfriends arrived and took the boys to their homes for the holiday. Soon, I moved the potato salad to just the Fourth of July, where we still have guests, because our backyard gives us a front row seat to the community’s firework extravaganza.
Now, my dad is also gone, my sister is in a retirement home, one son is married and in the Army. It’s just my husband, our older son, and me to celebrate the day. The flag is out, and the barbeque will be fired up this afternoon. I’ll bake my gingersnap cookies, and we’ll eat out on the patio. And we’ll remember our families, and the men and women who fought to protect our freedom. No matter how small our family has become, we can get together every Memorial Day because someone else paid the ultimate price in order for us to do so.
Happy Memorial Day. Never Forget the Fallen!
¾ Cup shortening or butter ¼ Cup dark molasses
1 Cup sugar 1 large egg
Sift and add:
2 Cups flour ½ Tsp. ginger
2 Tsp. soda 1 Tsp. cinnamon
½ Tsp. ground cloves ½ Tsp. salt
Mix Well---- Chill well (several hours in fridge)
Form in balls the size of walnuts. Roll in sugar, place on greased pan. Bake at 350˚ for 12 minutes.
Makes about 3 dozen