There's plenty of time for Oklahoma City family fun on long weekends. Memorial Day is coming up and it's an ideal occasion to plan for time together as a family.
"What's Memorial Day? Are we supposed to remember something?" Sam, 8, is old enough to start asking questions that aren't easy to answer.
I quietly explain the origin of the holiday and what a veteran is. "Not something, more like someone. So many people. Brave men and women who make it possible for you and I to live in a place that is free. It's hard to explain."
Too complex. I try again, in simpler words, with the help of Google.
"It's like Día de los Muertos but with military connections. We honor those who have served in defense of our nation and what we believe in, as a country." Our multicultural household both clarifies and complicates.
Sam looks less confused. His next question, though, is somewhat puzzling: "So are we supposed to be happy or sad?"
The world has no gray yet for him; it's all black or white, happy or sad.
That's a very good question. I do pause each year and wonder about just how to approach Memorial Day and the weekend preceding it. I know that the does day brings up grief or ambivalence for families, even as there are cookouts, rodeos, festivals and other community celebrations taking place. Sam's question is valid.
"Happy," I say. "Happy because we can celebrate in memory of the family members we've lost and other people have lost. Happy because we have this time together and we're making new memories, here, right now, where we live. Happy because I don't think the people who worked and fought and lived for what Memorial Day is all about would want us to be sad."
Family reunions will take place. Photos and stories will be shared. The reasons for remembering will be recalled.
Most of all, though, it's a time to be together and those memories, I trust, do last for families everywhere.