Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tradition! Tradition!

by Robison E. Wells

So, yesterday was Memorial Day, and in my family we have a kind of unusual tradition: we visit cemetaries. Yes, when you are on your way up the canyon, anxiously looking forward to fishin' or campin', and you pass a bunch of sorry saps wandering the graveyard, that's me.

Actually, the tradition is not mine. It's my wife's crazy family's. Hoo boy, what an insane posse of crazies! Now, I'm all in favor of visiting the dead. By no means am I anti-dead. In fact, some of my best friends and relatives are dead (my grandparents, for example), and I respect their unique world view. But my wife's crazy family takes this dead-visiting to all kinds of ridiculous extremes.

Let's say that you marry into the family. For example, you marry Christina, my wife's eligible sister. (Congratulations, by the way - she's quite the catch!) Well, on your first Memorial Day as one of the fam, you might think "We'll just run up to the cemetary, drop off some flowers, and then go fishing!" Think again, fatboy. You're logic is flawed in oh-so-many ways.

First, it's not just one cemetery, it's, like, a dozen. (I don't know how many, really, because I'm catatonic before we get halfway through.) Seriously, who knew this family had so many dead relatives? Perhaps you're starting to wonder whether this death-prone family is one you want to be part of? Well, too late, fatboy. You're already hitched.

Second, you can't just go here, and then go there, and then go to the next place. On the contrary, you go here, wait for everybody to show up (all the extended, non-dead relatives) and then march as a troop up to the gravestones. Then, when the festivities there are complete (as described below) you all march back down to the convoy of vehicles, and head to the next cemetery. It's like a funeral processional, but for everyone who has ever died.

Third, you don't just place flowers, fondly remember your dead great-uncle, and then go. Are you kidding? Where's the pain in that? Actually, you get to the gravestone, and everyone sets up their folding chairs, and someone spreads out blankets, and the kids play hide and seek while the adults complain about the weather. This lasts about an hour, or until one of the kids starts screaming (for whatever reason: injuries, lack of sharing, fear of ghosts, etc.).

Fourth, if you ever try to find something fun to do, such as go and sit on the wall of the cemetery and applaud as cars drive by, then inevitably some old lady will get out of her station wagon and tell you to have some respect for the dead. Seriously: what the heck?

You know what I want to do? Just show up at the graveside circle with a big bucket of KFC under my arm. It's already a park outing -- why not make it a picnic? (I'll tell you why not: because they'd probably think it's such a rad idea that they'd institute it every year, and lug along the barbeque.) ("Would you like your steak medium, well done, or cremated?")

Not that I should be complaining. I get endless pleasure out of the event every year in the form of this: mocking it. And truth be told, I haven't gone for the last two years. I can't remember what I was doing last year, but this year I had to help someone move. He even had a piano, and yet I leapt (leapt!) at the chance to help him move and get out of the Cemetery Reunion. So, while the wife and kids were grave hopping, I was loading and unloading a truck. In fact, we loaded the truck, drove to the new house, and unloaded the truck, and did it all in half the time it takes for the Memorial Day Marathon to end. So, I walked to the movie theater and watched The Da Vinci Code.

And to my relatives who read this, this blog has one thing in common with The Da Vinci Code: while based on fact, it's shamelessly embellished for sake of the story. And to those of you not related to me, this blog has one thing in common with The Da Vinci Code: its main characters are murderous zealots, obsessed with the dead. So Dark The Con of Memorial Day.


At 5/30/2006 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anura Ranidae said...

Boredom a la mode, Rob?

At 5/30/2006 9:06 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

I want to party with you cowboy.


Post a Comment

<< Home