Friday, May 26, 2006

The Kresgy Burger. Now, that food entree may not sound like much to you, but to my family it conjures up a myriad of wonderful memories steeped in lakeside bonfires, family laughter, lazy afternoons on the water, sun-drenched dusks and moonlit skies.

What exactly is the composition of the family-traditioned Kresgy Burger? Simply enough, it's a simplified sloppy joe sandwich. It doesn't have a unique flavor or texture to it. It's a very simple recipe that was perfected by my mother-in-law Leone and served for Saturday lunches during summer weekends at the family lake cabin. That's all the allure that surrounds this simple burger.

But as summer begins with the onset of another Memorial Day Weekend, it was my son Leo's first menu request: "We should make Kresgy burgers this weekend."

"Why, Leo?"

"Because Grandma Leone would have enjoyed it."

My mother-in-law Leone finally succumbed to her long battle with pulmonary fibrosis in early December of 2005... and it is this weekend that marks the family's return to the lake cabin. This time without Leone and her perfected burger.

Whether you consider it memory food, comfort food, mourning food or celebratory food, it's one simple way that Leo came up with to honor his grandmother. And that is what Memorial Day Weekend is all about, my friend.

We gather with family and friends this specific weekend to celebrate the pinnacle of spring and burst of new life into summer. We gather at memorial services and cemeteries to remember loved ones and the celebrate the physical life we still live. We honor those who have gone on ahead by remembering and celebrating those traditions, rituals and habits cherished by those loved ones. We rest easy in the warm memories we do have of those persons and offer thanks because we are better because of them.

Memorial is a Latin-derived word meaning "from the memory," so we celebrate because we remember all that was good and noble and honest and pure of loved ones who have passed from this world. And we honor them by transplanting that goodness, nobility, honesty and purity into our own life. We nourish ourselves with these virtues and we wash it down with a hardy Kresgy burger.

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend as you celebrate the opening of another summer and a recommitment to those virtues exemplified by your loved ones passed. You owe it to them. You owe it to yourself. And by the way, what's for lunch at your home?