As a young child, we would drive over to my great-grandmother's house on Memorial Day morning...only we called it Decoration Day. She would be outside cutting huge bunches of her Sweet William flowers. We already had big beautiful white peonies in brown paper bags sitting in the car. We would pack them all into the floor of the back passenger seats in brown paper bags. I could smell them and peek into the bags at the pretty colors on our drive to the mountain church graveyard.
That's where our ancestors on my mother's side are buried. We had empty milk jugs with the tops cut off to place the flowers in to make beautiful bouquets for each grave site. There was my great grandfather's grave and several others. I was always curious about the tiny little grave that my great grandmother so lovingly placed flowers on...her child that died during infancy. We also brought along water in milk jugs to water all of the bouquets to make them last longer.
After that, we sometimes took a picnic lunch up to Cades Cove or Metcalf Bottoms Picnic areas. A memorial day picnic definitely signified the start of summer for me. I remember my great grandmother always made her delicious old fashioned banana pudding with vanilla wafers in it. She was a quiet lady and would always take me aside and quietly smile and claim that she made it especially for me because she knew that I liked it. I think that she did!
I think that because of the way we celebrated memorial day, I do not get scared in graveyards. I find them to be beautiful and peaceful places. The graveyard in the mountains that I visited as a child is especially beautiful. My father is buried there along with my mother's family members. I wish that I could take some flowers there today! The following is a link that talks about the origins of Memorial Day and why it used to be called Decoration Day. Enjoy!