|Bayview Cemetery on All Saint's Day|
Not to mention that the clocks also changed last night from Daylight Saving Time to Pacific Standard Time, giving me an extra hour of sleep. I tried so hard to stay up later last night in order to wake at my usual time, but it didn't work. It makes me wonder why we still even use this system: now we wait until November to change the clocks, and we will change them back (when we lose an hour) in early March. This means that the sun will set around here before 5:00pm tonight, and in another month, it will be dark at both ends of the day. We are so far north here, almost 49 degrees latitude, that the days get shorter and shorter, the sun lower and lower in the sky, until by the beginning of winter the days are only 7 hours long with little sunshine. Mostly rain and gloomy skies. Fortunately I don't suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but I learned a few years ago that those of us living so far north should take Vitamin D all year round. So it's been added to the numerous vitamins I take every day: those for my eyes, not to mention even a prescription drug (statins) for cholesterol.
I did see the retina specialist last week, and he found no change from my previous visit, which made both of us happy. My macular degeneration has slowed in its progression, and I credit much of it to good diet and all those vitamins. That doesn't mean it's stopped; when I asked the specialist if I could see him once a year, he did not agree. Some people see him every three months, and even a few must visit him once a month. When I found that out, I figured I'd better count my blessings and be glad I'm not needing eyeball injections or some of the other awful treatments he provides. But I'll do whatever it takes to keep my eyesight for as long as possible.
Back to the holiday. In some cultures, especially in Mexico and other Latin American countries, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a bank holiday and families celebrate it by creating altars and putting place settings at the table with foods enjoyed by the loved ones. I found this quote on that Wikipedia link:
On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children's altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.And there you go: a full three-day-long holiday celebrating our loved ones who have gone before us. Instead of this wonderful holiday, here in the United States we get an orgy of candy, a chance for kids to dress up in costumes, and an excuse for a costume party for the adults. I saw quite a few interesting costumes on Friday and enjoyed them all. Once upon a time, I never missed a chance to put on another identity and looked forward to Halloween. When I left Colorado, I got rid of a fair number of wigs I'd accumulated over the years. These days I enjoy the excitement of others and the chance to use my camera to capture their creativity. Just another one of those things I seem to have outgrown.
Samhain (pronounced SAW-win) is an ancient Gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark days of the year. It's halfway between the autumnal equinox and the first day of winter, and it is seen as one of those times during the year when spirits can more easily enter the world of the living. It makes me wonder when so many cultures over such a long time find this particular date in our annual calendar to be when the doorway begins to shimmer with ghosts and goblins, when the demarcation between the worlds becomes thinner. Some people like to watch scary movies at this time; I'm not one of them. There's too much horror in the world already without trying to add to it. All I have to do to get really scared is watch the news of what is happening worldwide. Is it just me or is the world getting scarier in general? Or are the newscasters just concentrating on the frightening stuff?
Okay, I've wallowed around in the spookiness of the season long enough, and now it's time to think of happier things. Perhaps the trick to staying balanced and content in the world today is to concentrate on the positive side. I believe there are plenty of good things happening everywhere, but I sure don't see anybody telling me about them. I must go out of my way to find them, but they are there, if I will only look. This is one way that blogging has changed my life: there are myriad souls in this blogosphere who give me different perspectives, and many who are making a real difference in their own communities. Almost every day I will be inspired by some fellow blogger, and I realize that getting bogged down in negativity helps no one, especially not me. Those unwarranted fears take over only when I allow them to.
Today I'll pull out some old photographs I have of my loved ones who have gone over to the other side, and remember the good times we had together, honoring their lives and who they were to me. My sister PJ is also on the other side now, and the idea of them all having a feast together, remembering when they were down here in corporeal form, gives me a great deal of pleasure. PJ was a great cook, as was my mother in her younger days, so I can imagine PJ's fantastic apple pie and Mama's incredible turkey hash among the spread. If I listen carefully, I might be able to hear distant laughter and the clink of silverware.