Flags around small town courthouse on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is just around the corner. The day that we remember those who gave their lives in active military service. It’s also a day that is spent with friends and family and the unofficial start of summer.

I remember growing up that the local swimming pool opened on Memorial Day, so my day was spent there with my friends. Then we would ride our bicycles home and feast on hot dogs, potato salad, and watermelon.
Now that I’m older and have chronic pain – my celebrations are much different! The day is still a day of remembrance, but the activities have changed to conserve energy and keep my pain tolerable. Here are 5 Memorial Day activities that you can enjoy without aggravating your pain.

1. Spending all day at the pool swimming with friends and laying in the sun was a lot of fun when I was younger but with my fair skin, a sunburn was always guaranteed. I still love the feeling of the sun but I’m much smarter about it now. Instead of spending the start of summer at the pool, why not take an early morning walk? The heat of the day won’t zap your energy, so you will have reserve left to still spend time with family and friends.

2. Many small towns also have parades as part of Memorial Day festivities and mine is no exception. But standing in one place for longer than 5 minutes is out of the question. Instead, I keep a couple of foldable camp chairs in my car. They don’t take up a lot of space, they’re lightweight so this makes carrying them a breeze! And, I always have a place to sit to watch the parade.

3. Cooking out on Memorial Day is a tradition for many families including mine. My husband does the grilling and I prepare the side dishes. Making side dishes from scratch can be tedious – standing while chopping ingredients, bending over to get out pots and pans, heating up the kitchen if you’re baking – all of these can make my back throb. Instead, I buy pre-made side dishes and add my own seasonings and flavors. For example, I buy a couple of cans of baked beans and add some bacon, a little salt and pepper and some flavored mustard and Voile! “homemade” baked beans. You can do this with potato salad, macaroni salad, or pasta salad. You can even buy pre-cut fruit and mix it together for a fruit cocktail.

4. Memorial Day is also the perfect time to visit a cemetery to pay your respects and many cemeteries will mark the grave sites of veterans with small, United States flags. But some cemeteries are big and walking around can take hours! Instead, visit a cemetery that has a drivable path. This way you can drive to the grave sites you want to visit, get out of your car to pay your respects and then drive to the next site.

5. Going to a park is another popular activity on Memorial Day. There are many free activities at a park such as hiking or scavenger hunts. But hiking on uneven ground can cause you to fall and hurt yourself even more and trying to run around a park trying to find scavenger items can wear you out pretty quick. But a picnic is a great way to spend time in nature, hang out with family and friends and eat a great meal. You don’t even have to cook – just pick up a bucket of chicken and your favorite side dishes – now you have more energy to spend with the ones you love.

Memorial Day is a time to remember and a time to respect the sacrifices of others. These are just a few ways that you can participate in Memorial Day and not wear yourself out or worsen your pain.

What are your traditions for Memorial Day? I’d love to hear about them!

Until next time~ Dr. JB Kirby

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