This is what happens to Samhain candles when the weather is scarier than the Spirits so they all just hunker down in your dining room for the night. Not shown are the bananas. I always leave bananas out for the visiting Spirits on Samhain. Think about it. After a long trip through the veil between the worlds, would you really want a fun-size candy bar when you arrived? No. You’d want real food. Imagine if you showed up at someone’s home after a long journey and they offered you Skittles instead of a decent snack or meal. These candles oozed all over the bananas too. I assumed it was my visitors saying thank you.
I wish I had planned my LivingDNA test better so I could have gotten the results before these holy days of October 31st to November 2nd. Just so I could add some specificity to my festivity. When you know nothing about your ancestors your blessings feel orphaned. All these years I have hoped they know how to find me even if I don’t know who they are.
You’re wondering why I included November 2nd. I adopted the Day of the Dead observances when I was part of a Mexican family for a little over a decade. I married into the family. If you are inclined to give me hell for cultural appropriation over this one you can step off. I earned it. Sometimes people marry into a new culture and the result is a blend. Divorce doesn’t necessarily separate every element of the blend. Something of the other always remains. This is especially relevant if the union lasted a long time and there was significant bonding with family members, some of whom died while you were married. I loved the Day of the Dead. I was invited and welcomed to it. I’m not going to stop loving it just because I no longer celebrate with my former sponsors. You don’t just throw these things away. Well, I don’t.
Dead people. Dead marriages. Souls and saints and the supernatural. I wish we made a full season of this. You know, let it linger through Yule instead of initiating the Christmas insanity the day after Halloween. I went out to buy flowers yesterday and couldn’t get out of the store fast enough. Christmas had already thrown up all over everything. But I don’t mean to start my Christmas Complaining so early; I really mean to complain that our dead deserve more than one day. Or maybe I mean that I deserve more than one day with my dead. Nothing needs to start early. It would be nice for things to last longer after they arrive rather than just packing shit up so we can jump to the next decorating theme, which really means buy more shit.
Wait. Who says I can’t? Now that I think about it, who’s going to stop me from celebrating Halloween/Samhain/All Saints/All Souls/Dia De Los Muertos for eight weeks if I want to? If You People (yes, You People) can start Christmas eight weeks early I can make any combination of Dead Days last for eight weeks. Or celebrate all of them for eight weeks. Although I suppose I’ll need a better collective term for them than Dead Days.
Remember that old soap opera Days of our Lives? Maybe Days of our Dead? No. If you acronize this it becomes DOOD. (Acronize is a made-up word born of trying to make a verb out of acronym.) We are not celebrating DOOD. I just made my ancestors laugh though. Yours too. Did you hear it? One of the best things about having them around is sharing laughs. Hell, even dead marriages can do that.
I had to stop and google to see if Days of our Lives is still in production. It is. But I was right that it is old. It has been on the air continuously since 1965. That’s old for a TV show.
So what shall we call our eight-week season of the dead? Yesterday I posted this photo of my saffron sweater on Instagram with a caption explaining that I wait all year to wear these sleeves. It’s true. This is my favorite sweater. I love just about anything with bell sleeves but these particular bells are too warm to wear most of the year. So my heart grows fonder for them until sweater weather. My annual wait happened to end yesterday. I was picking herbs for pumpkin soup. This is rosemary I’m fingering in the photo. Ahem, European ancestors placed rosemary on graves to honor their dead. (And we can safely assume that all my white privilege came from Europe until the hard numbers come in.)
Perhaps this rosemary saffron sweater connection was not happenstance but a sign? Magic. A photographic prophecy. Perhaps we should call our new eight-week holiday the Festival of the Bell Sleeves? I’m getting nods and grins from the Spirits. And no worries about acronym failure here. No one is going to bother with FOTBS.
So we begin the festival the week of Halloween or Samhain and end it the week of Yule (or Christmas, if that’s your thing). In the first week of the festival we light candles near bananas. We buy or pick fresh flowers for our spirit-guests. We pick herbs and make pumpkin soup. We wear the color saffron liberally and don bell sleeves each Saturday of the festival. We tell jokes and dredge up memories — TV shows, laughs with/at old lovers, relatives lost in divorces, whatever. We also do yoga (because I did that this week too) and remove all the cat hair from the furniture (that too) and manipulate the passage of time (set clocks back). I hope you’re writing this down.
What shall we do for Week Two?