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Ideas on ways to spend this Memorial Day weekend as a family

The year is flying by and it's already time to celebrate Memorial Day once again. Memorial Day is a holiday on which we remember the sacrifices members of the military and their families make in order to keep us safe here at home.

We pay homage to those fallen soldiers who fought nobly and served our country. And thanks to those amazing men and women, it's also a great day for quality time with the family, because most school systems and businesses are closed for the holiday. So what should you do?

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Here are some ideas on how to celebrate this patriotic holiday.

• Honor the military. Memorial Day might be a holiday on which we remember our fallen military heroes, but it is also a wonderful time to honor those men and women who are currently serving. Using sites like http://www.anysoldier.com, you can have the entire family participate in making and sending a care package to members of the military who are overseas. Gather and send items such as boot socks, beanie caps, tactical tools, granola bars and small toys like beanie babies. In your care package, be sure to also include a few handmade cards or letters. Don't forget to consult a list of preferred items, which can be found on the previously mentioned website, before you put together your care package, though. This is a perfect activity in which to get the kids involved. Soldiers will cherish your special letters and, in many cases, your words can help them feel connected to home even though they are so far away. So pull out the paper, markers, crayons, glitter and whatever else you might have and get busy creating beautiful notes military men and women can carry with them to remind them they are loved.

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• Camping trip. Camping is definitely one of my favorite things to do in the spring, and Memorial Day weekend is a great time to take advantage of the warmer weather and plan a weekend getaway. Camping is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors and spend quality time with your loved ones. Get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and get outside to enjoy all that nature has to offer. Leave the smartphones and tablets at home, and enjoy the wide range of family activities that most campgrounds provide, including hiking, swimming, kayaking and fishing. In addition, camping happens to be a relatively affordable family activity, with tent sites going for less than $30 per night at many area camping facilities. However, keep in mind there are certain supplies you will need — such as a tent, cooler, lanterns, etc. — but these items can be borrowed or purchased pre-owned at inexpensive rates.

• Beach day. What better way to celebrate Memorial Day weekend than to head to the beach and soak up some sun, waves and sand? It has been a long-standing tradition for Marylanders to head "down the ocean hon" each Memorial Day. The beach is a fantastic place for families to enjoy time together. Many beach and pool centers open for the season on Memorial Day weekend, so it's a great way to ring in the unofficial start of summer. Put away the technology and instead build sand castles, surf the waves, or walk along the beach and gather seashells. There are many beach areas all over Maryland. If Ocean City is a bit too far — and pricey — for you, check out some of the areas closer to home, like the beaches at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Gunpowder Falls State Park in Baltimore County and Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville. If you would rather not fight the crowds at the beach, check out a local pool or aquatic club.

• Family picnic. If you are looking for a great low-key activity, a family picnic might be just the thing for you. Pack up a cooler, load the family in the car and head to a local park for a relaxing picnic. Picnics are great because the whole family can be involved in planning and preparing for it. Have the kids help make patriotic-themed foods such as star-shaped sandwiches, using cookie cutters, or fruit kabobs using red, white and blue fruits. And if you plan to make a day of it, don't forget to pack activities the whole family can enjoy such as Frisbee, soccer or even bubbles for younger children.

• Attend a parade. Who doesn't love a parade? Pack up the family and attend one of the many parades being held around town this weekend. Parades are a great source of entertainment for everyone in the family. Depending on the parade you attend, you might experience floats, live music, local and national celebrities, street performances, and possibly even fireworks. The excitement and grandeur of a parade is typically a great way to keep children — even younger ones — entertained and occupied for more than five minutes.

Whatever you choose to do with your family this weekend, be sure to remember those who sacrificed time with their families so our country could be safe. To all former and current military personnel: thank for your service and we love you.

Danielle Moser is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at threepeasservices@gmail.com.

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