As this year was our first one being members of our neighborhood pool, we broke with our family's Memorial Day tradition and--surprise, surprise!--it turns out I really like established traditions, and I don't like abandoning them.
|Walking and bicycling over to the pool|
Chris' parents visited us for the three-day weekend, and the company was lovely. Our children had seen the neighborhood signs for a week that come Monday at 10:00 a.m. there would be a big Pool Season kick-off party with music and a free cookout. Understandably, they wanted to be there for the action, so we agreed to do that.
|Walking and bicycling to the pool|
The recreation club did a great job: the pool was full with so many neighbors, and there was a great cookout of hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, chili, chips, fruit, and cookies, along with water bottles, beer, and lemonade.
|Ready to swim!|
The children had a great time!
|So many bicycles belonging to neighborhood kids!|
However, all this fun was simply niggling at us: for years, we have marked Memorial Day by my organizing an outing with numerous Catholic families at the local cemetery where we pray various, traditional prayers for the dead and then enjoy a picnic lunch together.
This year, we had become the typical Americans so-called honoring the men and women who volunteered to die to protect our freedom and way of life--this beautiful neighborhood, this fun time at the pool--an honoring by cooking on the grill and buying things on deep discounts. Even more importantly, from a Catholic perspective, those souls who aren't in Heaven, those souls in Purgatory, need our prayers.
So, we loaded up the children, grabbed our prayer book and rosaries, drove to the cemetery, and got on our knees.
|John examining headstones|
I think we all felt better trying to reclaim, in our very small manner for half an hour, a traditional way to mark Memorial Day. (I would like even better if we added to our family traditional the cleaning up of gravestones and cemetery landscaping on Memorial Day.)
Today was a reminder to me personally how we have to decide what values are important to us, and continue to guard those values. It is so easy for 'the world' to lure us away from what we know to be valuable to us. It was so easy for us to see no harm in joining our neighborhood for the grand opening of the pool--a morally neutral event, but one which pushed aside an important value.
I'm really glad we got those prayers in!
I've made a notation on our electronic family calendar for the middle of May next year to remember the traditional ways to mark Memorial Day and to plan for them. We have all summer to swim in that pool.