Memorial Day

Why do people say, “Happy Memorial Day”??

Yes, we’re getting a three-day holiday, but it seems to me that we’ve totally forgotten the meaning behind this day.

Memorial Day is not a “happy” occasion. It’s a somber observance.

Once upon a time, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. It was a day set apart to recognize those brave individuals who gave their lives in the service of our country.

I can remember my dad, who grew up in the Deep South, talking about how, as a boy, he went to the cemetery with his mother each Memorial Day. He said the ladies of the region always decorated the graves then. They put out real flowers (not those plastic things you buy today at Wally-world!), cleaned up the weeds, and so on. It was a big deal.

Today, Memorial Day is more noted for being the official start of summer. Kids get out of school; swimming pools open; golf courses are full; grills come out of storage, and grocery stores push the sales of barbecue sauce, chips, soda, and beer.

Not so long ago, Memorial Day was observed on May 30. Not May 25; not May 31. May 30th. That meant you got a holiday in the middle of the week sometimes. Cool!

But in 1971, Congress changed the official holiday observance to the last Monday in May (giving workers a three-day break). That’s nice, I guess, but some fear it’s contributed to a lackadaisical attitude about Memorial Day.

My town, like many others, doesn’t hold a parade on that holiday. Few people know Flag etiquette, and cemeteries now have caretakers (paid or volunteer) to tend the graves.

To counteract ignorance about the significance of the holiday, the government in 2000 authorized a National Moment of Remembrance. People were supposed to stop what they were doing at 3 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day and reflect for 60 seconds on the sacrifices others made so we might all be free.

Good idea, but I confess I didn’t even know about it until I was doing research for this blog! So that didn’t go over big, did it?

Some now are advocating a return to the traditional May 30 date to observe Memorial Day. I’m with them.

With all the distractions of picnics, bargain-hunting, and outdoors-enjoying, the remembrance and the mourning are tossed aside. And lest anyone forget, we are still losing young men and women to war. We are still fighting to keep our freedoms.

As one Pennsylvania man so aptly put it, it’s because of what Memorial Day represents that the rest of the days of each year are our holidays.

Why I Work for Myself

There’s something simply splendid about working for yourself!

  • No nit-picking boss (just nit-picking clients!).
  • No dress code (unless you include every-day-as-casual-Friday!).
  • No required starting time (nobody running you off the premises, either!).
  • No putting in requests for vacation and days off (what, you mean other people DON’T work round the clock, even on holidays?).

But there are some downsides, too.

Take, for instance, that last bulleted item. Go ahead, we’ll wait while you read it over again.

Working round the clock. That’s a big part of being your own boss.

If you can’t manage time, if you don’t have an innate sense of responsibility to do what’s necessary to get the job done (right and on time, too!), you might as well forget it.

Go back to being somebody’s minion.

If you consistently feel the need to socialize, or shop, or go golfing, or read a good book poolside — again, forget it.

Those things, when done in moderation, can be wonderful brain-cleansers. They can even help your business if you run into people who need your services — or if you make time for casual networking.

But most entrepreneurs will admit they work harder for themselves than they ever did for a boss or a company. Even the perk of stock options from a company isn’t the same thing as being self-employed.

With only yourself to rely on, you have to be the sales force, accounting department, collections agency, legal department, marketing department, secretary, chief cook and bottle washer, even janitor!

Admittedly, it’s not for everyone. But those of us who do it love it.

We invest so much of ourselves in our business. The business becomes our “baby,” and we have a driving need to see that baby succeed. Our reputation is on the line (and maybe a bit of our pride, too!).

Who doesn’t want to prove — to someone, somewhere — that, despite the odds, they “made it”?!

Flying away

My favorite Domer has been home just over a week now, and it’s rained almost every day.


No tennis. No golf. No outside barbecues.

Shoot, I’m struggling to walk my pudgy pooch between showers!

Yet every day your kids are home feels like a holiday.

You parents with little kids don’t understand this. You’re not supposed to.

Deep inside, you’re thinking, “Just give me a few hours to myself — away from the taxi-ing to and from activities, away from the incessant unanswerable questions (why do birds have wings?), away from the internal and external pressures of parenting.”

But trust me, you’ll live to eat those words!

I know I am.

People older and wiser than I told me to “enjoy every minute with your little ones.” I did, but sometimes, when the pressures added up and it felt like I’d never have another moment’s peace, I found myself wishing for an island somewhere, a place I could go ALL BY MYSELF where there were no responsibilities and every day was sunny. . . .

But that’s pie-in-the-sky, isn’t it?

Watching your darling fly away from the nest (whether it’s to college, marriage, the armed forces, or a job clear across the country) leaves you with a bittersweet ache in your heart.

You miss them, certainly, but it’s right that they grow up — and go away.

Congratulate yourself — you’ve given them roots and wings!

Besides, their flight frees you to do some of the things you always wanted to.

To reinvent yourself, as it were.

Unless, of course, you have other “little birds” still at home.

Then all bets are off!

Moving out

Apparently, there are a bunch of people — parents and students — in serious need of a Physics class these days.

I just got back from picking up My Favorite Domer in South Bend after the end of his First Year of Studies.

To call Moving-Out Day “interesting” would be a gross understatement.

I found I had to laugh or cry. Only an extreme emotion would work for something like this.

First, the weather (typically!) refused to cooperate. PermaCloud hovered overhead as a cold front neared. By mid-afternoon, the wind had kicked up and torrential rains produced huge puddles and spongy ground.

In between the showers, I watched parents and students load up their stuff:

  • Somebody was trying to squeeze an overstuffed, full-sized sofa into the back of an SUV (didn’t they measure??)
  • Somebody rolled three TVs out on a cart and put ’em in one vehicle (who can watch 3 TVs at once?)
  • Somebody wrestled one of those plastic carts with pullout shelves into the bed of a truck
  • Somebody hauled out two sets of golf clubs; another had two hockey sticks
  • Somebody maneuvered a futon into an SUV (what were they thinking?)
  • Somebody bear-hugged a refrigerator all the way out to his car; others hauled armloads of clothing, wheeled executive desk chairs, or hoisted more shelving into trunks

No wonder UPS set up shop nearby to capture the overflow!

No wonder the campus had all sorts of containers available for  students to donate to local charities!

No wonder the enterprising youths were “wheeling and dealing” on big-ticket items their comrades couldn’t fit in!

I feel positively impoverished when I recall the amount of “stuff” I took to college, compared to what today’s kids have to have.

Different times, I guess.

But still, even I (who didn’t take Physics) know there’s a finite amount of space in cars, trucks, SUVs, etc. and once that space is filled, the rest of your “crow’s nest” is going to get left behind or shipped home.

Anybody got any tips for how to do this again come Fall Term??

It says Stop, not Park!

Why is it that some people just can’t drive??

I’m not talking about the really old — though goodness knows, they contribute to the problem by creeping, then slamming on their brakes every other minute.

I’m not talking about the really young — though they seem to be in a BIG hurry most of the time and are distracted with putting on eyeliner, talking on cell phones, fiddling with IPods, etc.

I’m referring to your average, run-of-the-mill driver, the one who never figured out what to do about Stop signs.

They get there and stop.

And wait.

And wait some more.

C’mon, people, why’d you get behind the wheel if you didn’t have any place to go??

Here’s a refresher on how it’s supposed to work:

  • If you’re the first one to get to an all-way intersection, you stop. And you go. Simple.
  • If you arrive at said intersection and others are already there, you have to wait until they’re all gone.
  • And if you get there at the same time as somebody else, you yield to the guy or gal on your right. Then you can go.

Don’t muck up the works by signaling somebody to go when it’s your turn.

You might think you’re being polite, but you’re just being confusing.

Don’t throw your car into Park and camp out for a spell, either.

That’s annoying.

Unless, of course, you like to have other drivers honk at you.

It’s a lesson everybody should have learned in kindergarten — take turns.