Veterans Day came as a pleasant surprise since we’d forgotten the Man had a work holiday. We woke up to a perfect fall morning, hiked and hit the playground, then built a backyard fire in the afternoon with our very own veteran. We used to make bonfires a lot before kids but haven’t lit many in recent years. It’s just a lot of work to get everything set up and herd staggering toddlers away from tempting flames. Now the twins are finally old enough to have a (small) sense of self-preservation. They loved the fire. Jack and Annie wanted to help break up sticks; I spent half an hour feeding the fire with tiny one-inch twig fragments they proudly supplied. We headed in smoky and happy as dusk fell for a dinner of corn chowder and cornbread followed by bed for all the little folks.
I think one of the things you learn as kids grow is the balance between too little and too much. It is, frankly, a lot of work to do anything with small children. That can keep you from attempting something fun. On the other end of the spectrum you can easily go overboard setting your hopes high for hours of idyllic family time with roasted hot dogs and s’mores and kumbayas ’round the campfire. We try not to let the work keep us from trying things, but also try not to spend an eternity preparing elaborate events that the toddlers just won’t appreciate. Everyone stays happier when those two extremes are in balance.
Incidentally, did you ever wonder why the British commonwealth memorializes the war dead on November 11th, while in the U.S. we commemorate those who died in wars on Memorial Day in May and honor all war veterans on Veterans Day? When Armistice Day observances began after WWI the US already had an existing spring war memorial thanks to the Civil War fifty years before. Dates and their exact meaning wobbled around for a few decades, but Memorial Day eventually won out as the day to memorialize the dead while all war veterans receive recognition on Veterans Day.