Creating good memories for children is like investing in the future. Family traditions experienced as children form the basis for the creation of their own family traditions when those children become adults. Families form bonds that last throughout life as they learn of past family history. They learn to respect and appreciate the sacrifices made by ancestors and the many men and women who have fought for our freedom as they participate in the observance of Memorial Day.
Many families have a tradition of decorating the graves of family members and friends on Memorial Day. In fact, the day was once called “decoration day.” When the routine is repeated each year, the children learn not to question the day’s activities. They know ahead of time what will be done on that day. Many families are scattered and no longer can get together, but the memory of that day remains in the minds of those who have participated in the day’s activities in the past. When our children were young, we were away from all of our relative’s graves, but we took the children to the grave of a former neighbor who had befriended the children. We mentioned those in the past from our own families.
Memorial Day is a time to remember the past history of the family. We should not allow ourselves to be deterred by jokes about telling about the past. Children need to know about the past and the lives of their ancestors. They especially need to be told of the heroic accomplishments of family members in the past. A little of the negative side serves to remind the children of what not to do or be. Storytelling has great value for children. It requires them to visualize for themselves rather than having a picture to go by. It helps in developing their listening skills. Most families have some members who have given their lives to protect our freedom. These people should be pointed out and stories told of their bravery.
When children carefully walk through a cemetery, they sense that it is a special place and that respect should be given to those who are buried there. As they hear stories about past loved ones, they cannot help but develop appreciation for the sacrifices that were made. They will undoubtedly be motivated to make their own lives productive.
A good way to end the day is to have a barbeque or other type of picnic or family get-together. One of the things that children love most is to have parents and grandparents play games with them. They enjoy watching the adults run or make mistakes of any kind as they play such games as workup softball, tag, hide-and-seek, etc.
An often overlooked holiday, Memorial Day can be a real opportunity to develop appreciation and respect. It is a time to bond as a family. The traditions of a family on Memorial Day are traditions to cherish.