Thursday, July 10, 2008

What Are We Doing for Memorial Day?

It’s almost Memorial Day weekend, and my family has nothing to do.

Last Sunday, I asked my wife what she wanted to do. She said she didn’t know. I asked my 4-year-old son what he wanted to do. He also said he didn’t know. The two of them asked me what I wanted to do. I said I didn’t know.

The next day, I left a voicemail for some family friends, asking if they wanted to go to the beach for Memorial Day. Just as soon as I left the message, I got a call from some other friends who asked if we wanted to go boating at the lake on Memorial Day. Not having any other solid plans, I said, “Yeah, that’d be great. Count us in.”

At home, my wife said she’d made plans for Memorial Day. She said we’d go over to her parents’ house for a barbeque, and that there’d be lots of extended family over there for fun and games.

“But I already made plans to go to the lake,” I said.

“You’re gonna go to the lake?” she asked.

“No,” I responded. “We’re gonna go to the lake.”

My son surprised both his mother and me when he and his buddy, the kid from next door, said they’d already made Memorial Day plans of their own to go to the nearby park to play. And since the neighbor kid’s parents heard those plans and assumed it was an official request my wife and I made, they booked the appointment.

Memorial Day is a holiday that asks Americans to remember the men and women who have died in battle to protect our country. My son will certainly remember his mommy and daddy as we battled to our deaths to protect our reputations among family and friends, trying to set plans for Memorial Day weekend.

But before we could actually kill each other, the phone rang. It was the party I had called, asking if they wanted to go with my family to the beach for Memorial Day. A big “Yes, we’d love to go to the beach” was their response. A long silence as I tried to think of a good excuse for canceling the invitation. And then I got a call on the other line. Holding the party in suspense without a response, I picked up the other line.

“So, are you guys coming up for Memorial Day weekend?” It was my parents, asking if I’d pack my family into the car, and drive up to Northern California so the proud grandparents could see their grandson -- never mind seeing their son and daughter-in-law. It was a question I couldn’t answer. The long pause only made my parents think that I didn’t want to see them, and that I wasn’t smart enough or quick enough to think of a good reason not to come.

Two days later, my parents were still emotionally damaged. The verbal war between my wife and I regarding this whole mess was still raging, and neither side had any edge on the other.

In an attempt to make peace, I finally threw up the white flag, and I became my own mediator, suggesting to my wife that we merge events and people into one gathering.

“We could go to the lake where the beach people can still get wet, and where the boat people can still ride in the boat, and then we could bring a portable barbeque for the barbeque people, and we could purchase or rent some portable park-type play equipment so our son and his friend can still play together. That way, everyone is happy. What do you think?” I asked, thinking I was quite clever to come up with such a brilliant solution. I called all parties involved and shared my idea.

Of course, the perfect solution is never perfect. Everybody, including my wife, hated the idea. They all took offense. And while my wife and I eventually made peace, everyone else banned my family from their plans.

My wife and I now have arrangements to spend the Memorial Day weekend alone with our son. No friends, no extended family, no beach, no lake, no boats, no park -- just our family at home sweet home, relaxing like we should’ve planned to do in the first place.

Ah, it’s going to be a great Memorial Day weekend -- unless some other party wants to invite us to their gathering for a better time. My wife and I are taking the first invitation. Anyone? Anyone?

-May 2008

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