What was happening? Everything was jammed up! At every traffic light, every gas station, every grocery store, every minute-mart — there were long lines. This traffic was so feverish and intense I felt intimidated. I felt that a frenzied spell had been cast over the entire town.

Then it finally dawned on me — this was the Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend. Half the cars had in tow campers, jet skis, boats, camping gear, dirt bikes, ice chests, cooking grills, tents, lounging chairs, sun bonnets and umbrellas — all homogenized with ecstatic children hanging out car windows, primed by the anticipation of a three-day weekend of fun and frolic. This intense exertion was driven by a boundless energy to escape life’s routine; to have a break from the daily grind that easily holds any of us in relentless captivity.

Three things could jeopardize this obsessive pursuit for rejuvenation (and exhaustion) on a holiday weekend — no sun or no money or no health. Plans are foiled and hearts grieved for everyone who may be confronted with any one of these three requirements for holiday fun. Such victims might find themselves sitting in their camping tent, SUV or even home, watching the Indy 500.

My mind reels affronted with our holiday weekend frenzy. Reflecting, I am compelled to think of the less flamboyant holiday experienced by millions: those with a permanent lack of health or wealth or freedom.

Such people include that segment of retirees who find themselves raising their grandchildren. There is also the most upsetting segment of our society — veterans impaled physically or mentally in our veteran’s hospitals for life. It is hard to believe that those very persons who spent themselves to purchase the wonder of this country are rendered unable to enjoy it. We have some 3.8 million veterans who are disabled. Then there is the 13.5% of Americans who are poverty stricken. We could foolishly ask any of these so confined, where is their celebration of the three-day holiday weekend (or for that matter, any weekend). We avoid that question since the answer is obvious.

As hard as we Americans work and deserve a holiday weekend, it is still good to keep in mind the many people who are unable to celebrate with us.

Remembering these people we might gain a more controlled and grateful celebration of our national holidays. We might even discover the paramount joy of periodically visiting and assisting those fellow Americans who are less fortunate — unable to experience a get-away holiday. Therein our holidays could turn out to be less feverish, less hectic and for sure, more appreciated and more enjoyable.

The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and retired professor of psychology. He can be reached at jandmburkhart@yahoo.com.

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