One of the things I’ve been pondering lately is the notion that things have the meaning we give them.
Holidays are a good example. Memorial Day is, perhaps, an especially good example. This is a place in our culture where food seems to be deeply involved in meaning. Consider for a moment the many folks who, in the course of our conversations over the last couple of weeks, have asked questions like, “Is it still Memorial Day if I buy the potato salad?”
Or, “My grandson is allergic to watermelon. What do we do for Memorial Day?”
If we are to believe our friends at Food Network, Memorial Day means grilling. Meat. Veg. Fruit. Pie. And, should it rain where you are, they’re happy to suggest a handy, dandy cast iron griddle to put on your stove, lest your family miss out.
Memorial Day as the beginning of summer. As the day the local community pool opens. A baseball and hotdogs sort of occasion.
All those things are great. Rituals and traditions are helpful pieces of identity and cultural growth for our kids. So, I suspect, is knowing that Memorial Day is about remembering.
There’s a word I love in Hebrew. One of about six I actually managed to recognize by sight as well as by ear, years ago. (Wouldn’t put money on it now!)
The English transliteration is tzcar. It means to remember.
To remember those who fell in battle, not only for us, but for the things we grew up believing. For the things we learned that America means. A place where we claim that all of us are created equal, even when we have to stretch to get there. A place where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness don’t just mean me and mine. They mean you and yours, as well.
Tzcar also means to remind. To stand up and say something along the lines of, “Hey, this is the deal you made and this is what it looks like to keep that deal. This is what it looks like to do your job.”
Strangely, Food Network is helpful again!
Recently, I was watching re-runs of Chopped. (Pause for amazement!) There was a special episode in which celebrity chefs competed in pairs with their mothers for a large prize going to the charity of the winners’ choice.
I was cheering for an Asian-American chef named Jet Tila, and his mom, Mary. Their charity was a group called, K9s for Warriors, who place trained service dogs with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. This is life-changing for many of these service people who came home tragically changed from their time in combat. They also serve veterans who experienced traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma.
For me, this was a huge reminder that the task of Memorial Day is so much larger than placing flowers on war monuments. It is not enough to remember the sacrifice of fallen soldiers and their families. If we are to honor them, we must also remind the world of the risks and horrors of war, each in our own way.
After all, things have the meaning we give them.
Blessings to you and yours, Sue
PS – If you didn’t click the triangle in the middle of the picture yet, please do. When Fiercely Compassionate Grandmothers get together, amazing things can happen!