When I was young, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day were always solemn and special. My mother would prepare flowers and candles days in advance. Her preparations always signaled the upcoming holy days.
Every first of November, we would go to mass in the morning as a family and would then proceed to the cemetery to pray for my grandfather with all my cousins and aunts and uncles. We would always gossip, my cousins and I, and we would listen to our elders’ stories about our grandfather.
We would also gather as a family for his death anniversary, which also falls in November. So even though I’ve never met my grandfather, as he died almost two decades before I was born, I grew up knowing a lot about him. I grew up remembering him from the clan’s collective memory.
My cousins and I have grown up and most of us have moved from the small town where we grew up. Those family traditions, as I knew it, have come to an end. I want, though, to bring the same solemnity of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day to my children’s lives. I want us to respect, to remember, and to pray for the souls of our dearly departed.
Remembering Our Loved Ones
My husband’s grandmother passed away two years ago. Our daughter was close to her and still remembers her until now. I want her and her brother to continue remembering her and praying for her, so I asked my husband to tell us stories about her once in a while.
I also share anecdotes about my own grandmother who passed away several years ago before I was even married. As it is my habit to get help from stories, I chose books to read to help us talk about those who were dear to our hearts. Reading these bring tears to our eyes, and sometimes, Little T refuses to read them because she says she is reminded of her great-grandmother, “and that makes me cry!”
“The Mats” is a beautiful book about remembering those who have gone before us. It is based on a short story by Francisco Arcellana from the 1930s. This is also a wonderful book for learning about the Philippines. (Available here.)
We are going to Mass on November 1 or 2, light up candles, bring out pictures, and pray for our grandmothers and grandfathers. Though we have participated in Halloween parties and trick-or-treat activities in the past – mainly because we were parents excited to dress up our kids in cute costumes – we really do want to our observance of these holy days to be solemn and special.
Our children are growing up, and as we have discovered, so are we.