Aunts and Uncles Day – A New Bayard & Holmes Holiday

By Jay Holmes

After dealing with so much grim material of late, like Iran and Syria, I needed to write about something more cheerful.

In the USA, we celebrate Mothers Day on the second Sunday of each May. We celebrate Fathers Day on the third Sunday of each June.

At some point over the years, these holidays have taken on gift giving traditions. I can remember many of the gifts my sons gave me on Fathers Day.  All of them are handmade, and I still have them. I keep them where I can easily see them when I am home. They bring me fond memories of two cute boys who are now grown and no longer sit in my lap. They stopped asking for horsey rides a long time ago, and the store bought stuff that they and my wife shopped for with the best of intentions has been long forgotten.

Each year on Mothers Day, I remember my mother, and I wonder what we might do with that day if we’d had a little more time together. I also remember my Aunt Lily. She was a remarkable woman. When I was a child, she always ignored the adults who were entering her house until she had greeted me with warm affection and a long hug. In all of the years I knew her, I never received a negative word from her.

Every year on Fathers Day, I find myself thinking about one particular uncle. I don’t just think about him on Fathers Day, I think about him frequently. He was a special guy, and I was lucky to have him. It occurs to me that we have no special day to commemorate those special aunts and uncles who make a difference in our lives.

Piper and I have decided to declare March 12 to be National Aunts and Uncles Day. Unlike the nominally invented Aunts and Uncles Day an unknown person on the internet designated in July, our National Aunts and Uncles Day should involve no gift giving beyond your love and devotion, and no cash beyond the small cost of buying paper and a pen to make a homemade card. Store bought cards and gifts will not be part of the tradition.

In preparation for Aunts and Uncles Day on March 12, I want to share a few memories of my Aunt Lily today, and of my Uncle Tony on Sunday. I hope that you readers will, in turn, share memories of the special aunts and uncles in your lives.

La Tia Mia

My Aunt Lily was from Puerto Rico. She had married my mother’s brother, Ricardo. Ricardo and I got along well. I credit him for being one of my many relatives who saw to it that I was well steeped in the art of sarcasm, and in the advanced ability to render huge insults in Spanish without cursing.

One Christmas, when I was ten years old, I thanked my uncle for marrying my aunt. He was surprised and didn’t quite know how to respond, but he smiled and said, “I love you, Kid.” I told him I loved him too. He died of a massive heart attack the next day. I was glad I had told him.

Everywhere my Aunt Lily went, she brought her lighthearted laughter. She could joke about anyone while offending no one. Everyone laughed when Lily was around. Even when people were deeply concerned about problems in their lives, she would cheer them up effortlessly.

In the dullest of settings and moments, Lily could find and point out hilarity from amongst the mundane. She never missed spotting beauty wherever she found it. She would point out a nice set of lace window curtains or a nicely made rocking chair. Things I might have missed if she had not been there teaching me to see beauty. For her, the world was a source of comedy and a giant art museum.

She could always see past the worst to find the best. Whenever I visited her, I accompanied her through her neighborhood on visits so the many neighbors she was close to and who loved her could get a first hand update on what her nephew was doing and how much he had grown in the months (later years) between visits. I always took great pleasure in how my aunt’s neighbors greeted her. They went out of their way to treat me like a close friend, simply because I was Lily’s favorite nephew.

At a young age, it was clear to me that my aunt was a special woman of great importance. She had earned the trust, love, and admiration of so many people in her community. I felt privileged to walk with one of the world’s great and important people when I would accompany her in my youth. I feel that way still.

Now it’s your turn. Who are the special aunts, related or not, who live in your hearts?