3 Must-Haves for National Picnic Day
Correct me if I’m wrong but I think every episode of the cartoon “Yogi the Bear “ has a scene in which Yogi steals a picnic basket from family campers at Jellystone. Maybe you have no idea what I’m referring to but with the magic of Google, there’s an opportunity to catch up. So please let me know if my “Yogi and Picnic Basket “ theory is right or not.
I grew up going to a lot of picnics. Just to clarify, being Filipino, our picnics were not the same type of picnics that the French had in mind when they came up with the concept of picnics. FYI, nationaldaycalendar.com claims that the word picnic comes from the French word piquenique, which means, “meals eaten outdoors” and even though the website does not have data on who started National Picnic Day and when it started, we celebrate it on April 23rd. As I mentioned, the picnics I went to growing up were different. First, our picnic baskets did not look anything like the ones Yogi would steal from the campers. Our picnic baskets contained a rice cooker and marinated raw meat and/or fish to grill. Second, sometimes we would use our hands to eat - the Filipino term is “Kamayan”. It sounds fancy, but it’s the opposite - it is really provincial (remember, we ate rice). And third, some of these “picnics” were actually rest stop meals when we had long drives across the US. Having said that, we went to plenty of sun-soaking, fun-loving, legitimate family picnics. Ah, memories of pure joy.
In my opinion, moving food from inside a house to outside onto a back porch is completely different from going on a picnic. The location of eating a meal outside is the key difference. When we’re home, we have all the amenities, utensils, condiments, etc to have a successful meal outside. However, when we’re on a picnic, we’re not home so we have to improvise with what we brought. If we forget to bring napkins, well, we use our shirt. You know what I mean? Picnics are about being outside in nature and making do with what we have. I also like to think that picnics are about screen-free time which means both away from a screen that keeps the bugs off and a screen on the cell phone that keeps us from human interaction.
When my son and I were flying from Albany to Arizona over spring break, we had just enough time to grab something to eat before boarding the connecting flight in Detroit. My son grabbed a salad and I grabbed a sandwich and we proceeded to the gate. There were no seats available in the waiting area so we dropped all of our hand carry bags and our coats and made a picnic using the open floor space. I didn’t think much about it until an older man came up and complimented us. He was reminiscing about his children and how it was a delight to see us sitting down to eat our meal together. He noticed that I didn’t have my phone out and he advised us to slow down and do this often because kids grow up fast. When the man walked away my son looked at me like, “What was that all about?” but I got the message and I made a silent vow to have more picnics.
There are so many thoughtful pinch ideas for National Picnic day, so I narrowed it down to three “must-haves” for simplicity. These pinches are a great way to support a picnic-loving friend or to encourage someone who needs to take a break and go on a picnic:
One last pinch that is not a tangible item to buy but is worth giving out on National Picnic Day. It’s a reminder that the more one stresses out about hosting a Pinterest-worthy picnic presentation, the more likely the picnic doesn’t happen at all. Of course, if the prep part for a picnic is everything that brings you joy, then by all means - go to town. But for those of us who live in a TYPE-A world, we envision a perfect picnic by packing everything but the kitchen sink. This makes going on a picnic very daunting. If it becomes too much to plan and coordinate, then the whim and spontaneity dissipates. There is a quote by Curly Girl Designs, “A good cook knows it’s not what is on the table that matters, it’s what is in the chairs.” Now, putting a little picnic twist on it, I say, “A good picnic is not about what is being served, it’s about who you share your blanket with.”
Although I have a little bit of French in my ancestry, I can only guess that the reason the French culture is so romantic is because they can be spontaneous; rarely packing even a knife and/or glasses for a picnic. There is something to be said about the typical baguette, cheese and wine outdoor meal. It is what most consider the perfect opportunity to just be together. Who needs anything else for a picnic?
Whatever your version of a picnic is - enjoy one on April 23rd. But beware of Yogi the Bear!