Mixing Up Memorial Day

Memorial Day comes once a year, and every May you might struggle to know what to do to celebrate the loved ones who have passed on. Maybe you’ve lost the spark and are thinking of skipping a visit to the cemetery this year. Well we’ve created this list to help you mix up Memorial Day and make it more memorable than ever!

Consider a Creative Offering

Buying geraniums for your father’s grave may be a Memorial Day tradition that has fallen flat for you this year. Consider a more creative offering on Monday. Many cultures throughout the centuries have placed stones on gravesites to mark them and decorate them. You don’t have to build a traditional cairn to take part in this human habit—any stone will do, since part of the heritage here is holding down the spirit of the loved one with the weight of the earth. My two daughters and I spent a week gathering beautiful stones from everywhere we went—grocery store parking lots, hikes up in the mountains, even our own window wells. The girls loved laying these treasures over Grandma’s grave.

If rocks don’t sound like your cup of tea, there are many other offering options to think about. Go through your boxes of old memories with your family to find trinkets or pictures that will remind you of what was important to your loved one. My siblings and I carried a bucket of golf balls to my dad’s gravesite and laid them all around the headstone as a tribute to him and his favorite pastime—golf. We laughed and reminisced as we built a wall of white balls, fondly discussing Dad’s failed attempts to teach us a love for the game.

Moving Picture Picnic

Though this took some preparation, we had a blast watching old home videos on a projector in my backyard a few years back.  What a wonderful way to spend Memorial Day remembering the past; whether you’re specifically celebrating  the life of a deceased loved one or not—quality family time in front of your own silver screen is what Memorial Day is all about. If you don’t have family films, watch your loved one’s favorite movie instead. I can’t watch Gone With the Wind without having strong memories of being sick in bed with my mom beside me, feeding me chicken soup!

Serve Others

If you will be spending this Memorial Day grateful that you are not mourning a loved one’s loss, perhaps this Monday is the perfect time to serve those who are. A friend of mine who works at a nursing home suggested visiting the elderly on Memorial Day. Many facilities are looking for volunteers to perform, chaperone cemetery visits, or help serve special meals on this particular day, since most people living in a senior care center are mourning a spouse, a sibling, even a child. Comforting others is the best way to focus on gratitude and memories, which is why we celebrate this holiday in the first place!

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