A Reflection on National Watermelon Day

One of my favorite parts of teaching kindergarten was prepping the calendar each month and perusing “silly day” websites for fun holidays to share with the kids. There are entire indexes of these little-known, pseudo-official holidays, and they’re worth a look. Some of my favorites include Speak Like a Pirate Day (September 19), Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (last Monday in January), and Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (August 8 – coming up! Not that I’ve ever participated…).

Anyway, in the world of whacky holidays, tomorrow is National Watermelon Day.

I adore watermelon for a lot of reasons (it’s indisputably the best candy flavor besides green apple, for one) but I especially love it for all the dear memories it evokes.

Watermelon reminds me of summer, sunshine and swimming. It reminds me of Labor Day get-togethers and enormous fruit platters. It reminds me of long-ago family picnics in our yard overlooking the Rocky Mountains, watching my older brother pick every single seed out of his juicy slice and throw them far away into the grass.

Mom always said watermelon plants would grow from our belly buttons if we ate the seeds.

Watermelon seeds remind me of the ridiculous things we were told as kids like, “Cross your eyes and they’ll stay like that,” and “Don’t swallow gum or it will stay in your belly for seven years.” Watermelon seeds remind me of the ridiculous things I’ve told my students: “Keeping moving and I’ll glue your feet to the floor,” and “Do that again and I’ll put you in time-out for the rest of your life.” Watermelon seeds remind me that life doesn’t always have to be so serious.

Watermelon seeds remind me to relax.

So often, we get wrapped up in the stress of daily life – whether it’s business at work, unexpected obstacles to our plans, or just doing basic tasks with a toddler clutching our ankle and dragging behind us on the floor – and we forget to appreciate the little wonders happening around us.

We forget to look at the world through the eyes of kids, where watermelon seeds really could germinate in our belly buttons and where Elmer’s glue really would hold our feet to the floor of the kindergarten classroom forever.

We forget to appreciate the simplicity with which our kids see the world, and we forget to indulge back in that simplicity to reinforce a point in a fun and unforgettable way.

We forget that the experiences we give our children make or break their childhoods much more than whether the house is Pinterest-perfect or all the laundry got folded today. We forget that the little silly memories we share with our kids will be the stories they tell for the rest of their lives.

We forget about the watermelon seeds.

Today, make room for the life that’s breezing by. Take Watermelon Day (and every day) to dive back into the imagination and silliness of childhood where everything is incredible and the sky’s the limit. Take today to remind yourself of what really matters. Take today to infuse some silliness and joy back into parenting and discipline and answering “why?” a million times. Take today to pick out the flesh of the watermelon and throw it far away into the grass and instead — just for today — focus on the seeds.

— Forest Hempen
Former Marketing & Communications Associate