Up until 2007 I had only ever experienced our May long weekend, being the Canadian May 2-4 weekend to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday. Our move to the States brought a new holiday to recognize, the Memorial Day weekend. This falls the last Monday of May following our Canadian May long weekend. Americans honour those who died serving their country. I was always a bit confused between Memorial Day and America’s Veterans Day. I’ve been told, in America, they celebrate Memorial Day more to honour those who have died in service and Veterans Day to celebrate and thank those veterans who have served their country and are still living. Veterans Day is what we call in Canada, Remembrance Day, and is held November 11th.
In Canada, on November 11th we mark this day as recognition of the end of World War I in accordance with the armistice. We honour those who have died from the Commonwealth nations serving not only in World War I, but those that have served in wars since then, and we mark this day specifically with observances and services and the wearing of the red poppy, much credit due to the poem, In Flanders Fields, by Canadian doctor, John McRae, who served in World War I.
I’ve been told Memorial Day also marks the beginning of summer months, at least in the south. It seems to be when school ends and the holidays begin. But since my inner clock was always used to starting school early September and ending the last day of June, I never did really switch over during our time south of the border. So the poor souls in my homeschool world had to endure lessons while others felt the weight lifted and the ease and freedom of summer beginning. But lessons were at least never without a good dip in the pool when all was said and done in that last month of school in June.
This was a particularly memorable Memorial Day for us, as it was the first one we truly took part in with some American friends. What a great idea to hold a barn dance and ask everyone to come in red, white, and blue! Held at a local church, they began with the anthem and some singing. And then the dancing began! What a hoot to join as families to dance the Virginia Reel, Patty-cake Polka, Canadian Barn dance, The Dashing White Sergeant, The Windmill, The Gothic Dance, among others I can’t remember all the names for right now.
After a break for our picnic dinners, great conversations, and a chance to meet new people, the dancing started up again, and honestly, went on into the night. I can remember it being very truly unbelievably, down-right nastily hot that day so I welcomed as much shade as I could find when I wasn’t on the grassy dance floor. But those southerners, they’re troopers. As a matter of fact I don’t believe I remember anyone sweating other than the spouse and I.
Of course when the boys were tired of being a partner for a lady, they took to playing cowboys.
Potluck desserts were served, alongside the famous southern cold beverage, homemade ice tea. Our contribution consisted of Million Dollar Pound Cake, of which we’ll share with you here for your own Memorial Day celebrations if you be south of the border. Many thanks to Lizzie dear for this recipe.
Happy Monday Make to y’all!
1 lb butter, softened
3 C sugar (yes, really)
4 C all purpose flour (or use 4 C gluten free flour + 2 tsp xantham gum)
3/4 C milk
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cream butter in a large mixing bowl; gradually add sugar, beating with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, then add flavourings and mix. Add flour (plus xanthum gum if it’s gluten free) to creamed mixture alternately with milk, mixing just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 300 F for approximately 1 hour and 30 mins (or more…just keep testing.) Cool cake in pan 10-15 mins, then remove from pan and cool completely on a rack.
Liz says she usually uses the tube pan but has used this recipe for a fondue dipping, so she uses a big rectangle dish in that case. Her gluten free flour mix is 1 bag of Bob’s Red Mill white rice to 1/2 bag potato starch and then 1/2 a bag of tapioca flour.