Ancestors and Descendants
It’s the end of pretty autumn and the beginning of dead fall. Halloween which is all about dressing up as the thing you either most desire or most fear, and eating candy until you’re sick. Samhein about acknowledging the death of the growing season with the last of the harvest in and the gifts (probably prophetic) of the ancestors. Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a great time for a picnic with the relatives both living and passed. A chance to catch up on the news of the year on both sides of the veil. All Saints Day, assuming of course that the Saints are also dead and that they have only positive things to offer.
I find myself starting to plan the annual holiday schedule. What day is Thanksgiving dinner and who’s going to show up? If I plan to spend the night do I get the bedroom or a couch or the floor? Any rum cakes that have been started and will need regular tending. I’ve received the list of ‘gifts I would like’ from my daughter, “just in case anyone asks.” The calendar is filling up already into January.
We lost another member of the family this year. It makes the ancestor part of the holiday a bit bittersweet. I do find myself reminiscing in the season. I no longer have my Grandparents, a niece and a nephew and a handful of very close friends, some of whom have been gone over 30 years. The pets that have come through our lives over the years also check in to my memory around this time.
But life also goes on. My daughter and her boyfriend are negotiating the family holiday exchange for the first time this year. It’s likely that the timing will work in their favor since they both come from families accustomed to making accommodations. But I’m not sure they both will get the time off work they will need to hit everyone’s celebrations. Like the season demonstrates, part of life is learning about giving things up.
So I do a final weeding and bury the ancestor garden under a pile of leaves. I’ll need to decide what to add next year to honor this years passed. I’ll light a candle or two in memory and sit in meditation. Hopefully I’ll get a pat on the shoulder or even a warm embrace by the ghost of one of my loved ones.
For me this is not the holiday of one day. I don’t enjoy a dumb supper sitting in silence while the dead are invited to feast. I am not a vigilant keeper of shrines to my ancestors, so I am not called to tidy them up for the holiday visit. Instead I take long walks in the dry leaves kicking up ghosts and smiles. I talk to the wind, light a fire, pull out a hand made blanket.
I am grateful to the spirits of ancestors past. Those who love me beyond all reason and continue to support me in my life. I am grateful for the lessons you have taught me in your life and in your passing. I am grateful for the love that I continue to carry in my heart.
I am grateful also to my descendants. I hope to also be remembered in love and gratitude. I hope that I have made a mark on one or two lives that made a real difference. I am grateful for the opportunity to pass on the few things I have learned so far in this life.