Backyards and BBQs

A Cute Mess

It’s that time of year: BBQ season!  This is Memorial Day weekend, and as the weather increasingly warms, so does our desire to spend time outside.  Throughout the spring and summer, barbecues are prevalent and people want to gather together, have a good time outdoors, and eat great food on the grill.

I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, surrounded by kind neighbors who were raising families.  This meant lots of kids, and lots of great memories.  Whether we had gathered for Memorial Day, Labor Day, or any day in between, there were sure to be laughter, chatting, and children running around the backyards.  Sometimes we’d have planned activities, but usually it was just mayhem.

When I was young, I loved these gatherings.  However, as I grew older (you know, being the mature age of sixteen), I found the newer generation of young kids to be crazy and the parents to be boring.  I’d often opt to go home and spend time on the computer instead of either A) trying to control the kids or B) listening to the parents’ dull conversations.  After all, it’d usually end up a mess, such as when this little neighbor of mine was fully enjoying her food to the point of getting it all over her arms, her face, and her mother’s arms and face as well!  I thought these gatherings were annoying at best.  I didn’t know what I was missing.

I’ve learned since then just how important those barbecues are.  Especially in light of Memorial Day, when we have soldiers in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard fighting for our freedom every day, risking their lives overseas.  They have families back home.  They probably had summer barbecues in their backyards.  They have children, nieces and nephews, and young neighbors that would get into crazy situations, run around constantly, and make messes.  Suddenly, these messes become adorable.  You love every moment you have with these kids, because you never know when or if you’ll get another one.  You cherish every spill, every dirty cheek.  You desire to spend your time with your loved ones, friends, and neighbors, and you appreciate every gathering, every barbecue.

I wish I had that perspective back then.  However, looking back at this picture and reliving the memories, I am given a new chance to recognize just how special those moments were, and just how significant each one will be in the future.  Instead of messiness, I see cuteness.  Instead of mayhem, I see love.

So bring on the barbecues and the summer!  And let us appreciate every moment we have – as we appreciate our soldiers on this Memorial Day weekend – for we never know if we will get another chance.

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