Things change over the years. I remember when getting a phone call was a big event. Now one routinely sees drivers with cell phones attached to their ears like a plastic growth. Likewise, certain holidays contained the same routines. New Year's Day was for pork, saurkraut and football. April Fool's Day was full of jokes played on one another. Easter meant a new, fancy outfit for church. And Memorial Day was the day we placed flowers on graves.
Mother and I would wrap aluminum foil around coffee cans. In them we would place peonies, flags (irises) and any other flowers blooming at the time. We'd pack a picnic lunch of fried chicken, deviled eggs, potato salad and pies. Dad would carfully load the flowers into the trunk along with containers of water to pour on them once we reached our destination. We'd drive to every cemetary that contained the remains of our family.
At this point I should probably say that my mother and all of her sisters had a fondness for cemetaries. They loved to walk around and search out people they knew. "Well, would you look at that fancy tombstone ol' Elmer bought for Anna Mae. The man wouldn't buy her a new dress while she was alive, but he spent like a fool for this headstone," she'd snort. "Probably trying to impress everyone." And so our walks would go.
I hated the ritual, hated time spent in graveyards and hated trying to read faded inscriptions. But every year, we visit five cemetaries and place coffee cans full of flowers on the gaves of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who died too young. Then, at the last cemetary on our goulish excersion, we'd spread a tablecloth under a tree and eat our picnic lunch. Dad would spread out in the shade of the tree and nap, while Mother made her rounds checking for new residents. I sat near dad, sipping lemonaide made with a dash of vinegar, my eyes darting to and fro, waiting for the spirits to rise and attack.
Maybe it's better that some rituals have changed...