Reflections in My Mirror–Decoration Day

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During my childhood, Memorial Day was referred to as “Decoration Day” and it was a big event.  All the little kids got to help make the flower sprays that would be placed on the graves of our loved ones.  Mother would give us a pair of scissors and a box lid to take with us on our expedition.  First, we would cut little branches of pine from grandpa’s pine trees.  Everyone had some sort of flowers in bloom near the end of May and they would sacrifice them for “Decoration Day”. 

We would carefully cut a stem of roses, peonies or wildflowers and put them in the box lid with the pine.  When we thought we had enough to make about twenty sprays, we would head home.

Sometimes mother would make flowers out of crepe paper that had been folded in half and rolled to look like the bloom of a flower.  She would dip it in hot wax, put a wire stem on it and let it dry.  I always though these were beautiful, but only the dead people got to keep them.

 Mother would help us lie down the pine on the ground, place the flowers on top and tie them with a pretty ribbon.  We would keep the flowers in a cool place until the next day.  We would get up early and head to all our family cemeteries.  We would visit the McClure Cemetery first and seek out the headstones for all our relatives.  Mother would carefully place a spray of flowers up near the headstone and make a comment about the person buried there.  This cemetery was about 1/2 mile on top of the hill and once a year was enough for me.

Next, we would visit the Burton /Adkins Cemetery up Sugartree road.  My dad’s mom, Garnett Burton Woodrum died when he was six months old and daddy always cried when he visited her grave.  We had to walk through a creek and through weeds over our heads, but daddy found peace by paying his respects.  Before we left, we would place beautiful flowers on the grave.  I often wondered if the person in the grave knew we had visited them.

Some families would pack a big picnic lunch and have a picnic near the cemetery.  It wasn’t unusual for someone to bring a guitar and have gospel singing after the picnic.

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