Since it’s Memorial Day here today, a day set aside to honor those who have lost their lives in our country’s armed forces, I decided to jump off prompt and paint something a bit more patriotic. Today always makes me reflect on how much was lost in order to gain things that are often easily taken for granted. As a kid, I’m not sure I really understood the meaning of this day. The idea of freedom was usually applied to school being over finally and the start of a summer vacation. So much in life is only truly understood as we get older. And much in life I’m still trying to figure out. But as quirky as this country can be and even when I don’t agree with everything that’s happening in it, I’m still proud to be part of it. On this day, and every day.
We used to gather as a family and have a picnic on this day. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends would gather together with that particular type of food that manages to have zero nutritional value while bringing optimum pleasure. Being able to get both a hamburger and a hot dog was pretty much a dream scenario for a kid. On our family’s menu, the only thing green was the Jello salad, a gelatinous creature that bobbed and swayed in the breeze. It was a combination of fascinating and terrifying. Nobody really knew quite what was inside it and it was impolite to ask. Sometimes it would sit fully intact for the entire meal. But, in our defense, knowing whether it was an entrée or dessert was not immediately clear. Had the Jello salad failed to appear, of course, we would have missed it. That’s the strange irony of tradition.
I miss those times. I’ve taken to eating far healthier as an adult and nearly ever dish that was served back then is no longer on my menu. I loved the freedom of not worrying about what I was eating and just being able to gleefully enjoy every bite. And, most of all, I loved knowing that I was part of such a wonderful family. The kind that smiled more than some other families and constantly cracked jokes. We were very serious about never taking life too seriously. In the saddest of moments, you’d always find us laughing through our tears. Looking back, what I admired was that everyone always did what was true to themselves. No acting a particular way because that’s how you’re supposed to act, but instead, always staying genuine. And today, this spirit of truth and honestly, with all the layers displayed proudly, is still what I truly believe makes the best American pie.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham Watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Cobalt Blue, Gamboge, Pyrrol Red, and Ultramarine Blue. Lamy Safari Al-Star Fountain Pen – Extra Fine, with Platinum Carbon with sepia ink in an A6 Hahnemühle Watercolor Book.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!