Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Decoration Day

                                                  Memories linger from yesterday
                                                  of the most anticipated occasion around
                                                  Homecoming and Decoration Day
                                                  and dinner on the ground

                                                  As the old church bells would chime
                                                  the people came together at last
                                                  it was such a joyous time
                                                  to worship and reminise about the past

                                                  The graves were decorated in beauty
                                                  such a splendid sight to behold
                                                  the tables were spread and ready
                                                  with more food than they could hold

                                                  Preaching and shouting were a plenty
                                                  it could be heard for miles around
                                                  as a child waiting so patiently
                                                  my hunger continued to abound

                                                 The chicken-n-dumplings were waiting
                                                 especially for grandma each year
                                                 if she would've stopped her shouting
                                                 I knew they would soon disappear

                                                When the food was finally gone
                                                and the decoration was over and done
                                                they continued to linger on
                                                as if the day had only began

                                                Although some lived faraway
                                                they stayed until the sun went down
                                                after all it was Decoration Day
                                                and dinner on the ground

                                               Susie Swanson


      The month of May holds such special memories for me and Decoration Day stands out so clear. The older generation really believed in decorating the graves and I went with my grandma each year.

It was such a special occasion that my mom bought me a dress or most of the time made it herself on an old pedal sewing machine.I looked so forward to that new dress for decoration day.

We either made the flowers out of crepe paper or we cut  fresh roses and placed them in vases. We knew they wouldn't  last long but my grandma always said"they'll last as long as they last".

The little home church where we went was built of rock and every rock was placed by hand. The church was built sometime in the 1800"s. Both my grandpas and my dad help build it. The cemetery sit on a little hill across from the front of the church.

Now grandma was a shouting woman and I came to expect the shouting everytime she entered the church or walked into the cemetery. As a child I just went on with my playing and never paid any attention to grandma or the other shouting women, unless it was Decoration Day, then my hunger pains would kick in early.

After all of this we would gather at the home of the preacher(which happened to be my grandma's brother) for dinner on the ground. I never could understand why they called it that, but by that time I was starving so I'd grab my plate and sit on the ground for lack of a better place to sit, since all the chairs were took up by the grown ups. I never heard such talking and reminesing in my life. We surely made the  day of it and when we finally did make it home that's all grandma talked about for weeks on end or until the next year.

Today I still make flowers. But I use silk flowers to make tombstone wreaths for my parents and father and mother in law. I make pots of flowers for the other graves. I guess I can say the tradition lives on.

I hope some of you will remember and relate to this, meanwhile I've got to get busy on those flowers. Decoration Day is just around the bend and I can only hope for the dinner on the ground.   Blessings, Susie



  1. Such beautiful memories, Susie. Yes, it would break a heart if they couldn't decorate a grave back then. With society so mobile, I think it has waned some ... but in the southeast the graves are decorated all year round ... just beautiful.

    Have a beautiful day ~
    TTFN ~

  2. Lovely memories told loved the poem.

    Take care.

  3. What a beautiful tradition you are keeping. It's that type of tending and care that gives the flowers and graves such history, such story in each decoration.

  4. I remember going to the graves on Decoration Day with my grandma, aunts and mom. Grandma always made live arrangements from her snowball bushes, lilac bushes and rose bush. We climbed up the hill to the little cemetery hidden in the woods. Many graves were sunken with only rocks for head and foot stones. Mom and Dad continued the tradition of decorating the graves and now my husband and I continue to go to that little cemetery on the hill and others as well.

  5. Lovely stuff Susie, both your poem and how you make the flowers for the others.

  6. I'll have to say I'm overwhelmed. Thank you to each one of you for the beautiful words. I cherish them all. These traditions we learned from our ancestors are so wonderful and I love the decorating. Thanks again...Susie

  7. I have just found your blog from Writing in the Blackberry Patch and it's absolutely wonderful. The poem was so well written and your description of decoration day was the best! That was always "a fourth Sunday morning in May" tradition for us too. We didn't have flower gardens so I remember picking wildflowers for my grandpa's grave. I notice that you also quilt; another passion of mine. I'll be back to read more and I'd love to have you visit me.

  8. Thank you Lil Red Hen for the nice comments and visit. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and our decoration is the fourth Sunday in May also. Glad you liked the quilts. I will visit your blog and will be honored.. Thanks again Susie

  9. Wonderful memories and this is a lovely poem to commemorate those times. I remember visiting the graves with my parents when I was little too, although I don't think we had a dinner to go along with it. I enjoyed this post, Susie. :)

  10. Susie !!
    your such a wonderful writer, everything you write is a wonderful story put in an perfectly flowing poem... you inspire !!
    Keep them coming, my friend, I dont want to miss a thing !


  11. Thank you Daisy, for the nice words and I guess we've all got our own memories..

    Thank you JL. you're my inspiration. I look forward to it everyday. You're a natural. Thank you for the comments and visit... Susie

  12. Decoration day, so adorable!! I wish I could witness it in real. "The graves were decorated in beauty,such a splendid sight to behold", so beautiful lines and the personal account you gave is just so lovely, I really wish to see the time with my own eyes. Thank you so much for sharing :)

  13. Hello Susie, What a wonderful memory you presented both with the poem and then the text explanation. It's sad that so many of these customs seem to have fallen by the wayside. I could picture, your grandmother at the church and then sitting down to chien 'n dumplings afterwards. Thanks for sharing memories.

  14. Decoration day! What a wonderful tradition Susie.
    I visit my daughters grave site and I do decoration and plant flowers, but to actually celebrate their lives by a special day, makes it even more heartfelt...thank you for sharing this.

  15. Hi Susie, another beautiful poem, with such wonderful descriptions! I can just picture you and your grandma together. I love how we could see "Decoration Day" from the adult perspective of your grandma and then your own whimsical childhood view. It makes reading about the experience feel very complete.

    We didn't have the tradition of Decoration Day, but my Grandpa would come to visit every Memorial Day and bring my mother and I carnations to wear and the whole family would go together to the cemetery and put bouquets on the family graves.

    It was a loving time we all shared together. It taught me many valuable lessons and a great respect for life. I now live on the other side of the country and I miss not being able to be near the cemetery.

    You mentioned that you all had "dinner on the ground". I love that phrase and never heard it till I moved here to Georgia. The first time someone said that, I thought I was going to find blankets all over the ground with sandwiches laid out like a picnic. Imagine my surprise when I found rows of tables with luscious foods of every possible description! Where I grew up we called such dinners Potlucks. I hope you are having a good week and a lovely day ahead! Delisa :)

  16. @ Monika thank you for your beautiful words. I wish you could see it too, but I bet you have a lot of beauty surrounding you to that I would love to see..

    @Beatrice thank you for your visit and nice words. It is sad that the traditions have fallen away but we can cherish them in our hearts..

    @Helena, thank you also. yes it's nice to sit aside a special day but if you're like me you decorate any time of the year. I try to put some on at Mother's Day or Father's day and Christmas, sometimes on birthdays..

    @Delisa, thank you so much I'm glad you could visualize it so good. I could see it so plain while writing it. The dinner on the ground was just something the older generation come up with. I always knew it to be called potluck. They had their own sayings....


  17. I want to apolige to the ones that posted comments on this post. As most of you know I'm sure, blogger has been unavailable since yesterday and they failed to replace the other comments that were already here. So sorry for this and I do Thank you all the wonderful comments...Thanks...Susie

  18. What wonderful memories you have, Susie... I didn't ever belong to a small country church---but I've heard about these 'homecomings' all of my life.. I think that is so neat ---and I'm so glad (almost jealous) that you experienced that.

    Thanks for sharing.

  19. Thank you Betsy, I appreciate the comments and visit. I'm glad I have the memories to write about. We all have our own memories, and I'm sure you have beautiful memories also... Thanks Susie