Sunday, May 30, 2010

A New Memorial Day Tradition

I've never done anything for Memorial Day with my kids, other than the family barbecue. I live an hour away from any cemeteries with family members, and we've never taken the time to drive there and visit their graves, which I feel bad about and should do. When I was little, every Sunday before Memorial Day we'd go visit my Grandmas' graves and other family, and I miss that.
This year, spur of the moment, I decided we needed to go to the local cemetery and teach Noah what the holiday is about. It's a big, old cemetery that I've always wanted to visit, so I decided that today was the day. I wasn't sure what my kids would think, but I was pleasantly surprised. Clara just stayed in the stroller, but she liked looking around. Noah loved it! He saw all the flowers and flags and wanted to know what they were for. It was a wonderful teaching opportunity. After learning that a flag meant that person had been a soldier, he was very excited about finding all the flagged marked graves. He also enjoyed looking at the different gravestones and monuments and learning from Mom and Dad that some of the graves were over one hundred years old.
My very favorite, though, was being able to teach Noah the proper respect needed at a cemetery. He's never been to a funeral or a cemetery before, so this was all very new. A few times he accidentally stepped on some of the graves, but after a quick reprimand from Mom and Dad, he was very careful to treat them more respectfully. That's when he started fixing any flower pots that had fallen over. If any grave's flowers needing straightening, he ran over there and lovingly put them upright. We also encouraged him to put a stray flower lying on the grass on a lonely grave that needed some love. It was very sweet, and I even enjoyed helping him. It brought such a special spirit into my heart, and I'm pretty sure Noah could feel it too.
Noah could have stayed there much longer than we did, but Clara was ready to go. Tonight I've been thinking that maybe this needs to be a tradition. It doesn't matter if we don't know any of the people buried in the cemetery. They are still our brothers and sisters, and it's important to show our respect for the lives they lived.
I thought maybe next year we could actually take our own flowers and place them on graves that are empty. Then we can walk around like we did today and fix the flowers that have fallen down. I think it would be a lovely thing to continue to do. What do you think?