Whew! I tell you what, sometimes life just seems to fly by. Things have been pretty crazy; we recently went to Canada. Having family there makes for a great little vacation without the hotel expense unless of course you want to venture further than having a place to sleep at night.
In Mexico, Dia De Muertos celebrates the lives of people who have died. It is a true celebration of life, gathering friends and family to remember their loved ones who have passed. While we were in Canada I got to experience the Ukrainian version of this. Blessing of the Graves, starts around Easter and mostly ends up on Mother’s day. (I still do not really know how the date is picked.)
Sunday we went to two different cemeteries where some of my deceased in laws rest. The first being much smaller than the second. Thorhild is small, a few friends of family who are also burried in the cemetery came. I just loved seeing people Alex grew up with and the elders* and the great memories they share. Before the Priest blesses the graves, the families place food on top of the graves and it gets blessed too when the Priest makes his round. Some people walk and sing with him, some congregate around their deceased family members grave. Then after the Priest is done, everyone eats the food that the Priest blessed. Yum!
I must say, as a kid I always felt punished for not being an actual Catholic. When I would attend church with my grandma I felt like they were selfish and didn’t want to share their bread with people who weren’t apart of the clan.** So being able to enjoy these treats made me feel special and a tad bit more welcome, especially being a Texan and a total outsider in Canada with a gazillion questions.
After we finished at the first cemetery we headed to the second which was really the whole reason for this trip. Gido passed away last year and this was the first blessing. (Gido is Ukrainian for Grandfather.) Weasel Creek is a much larger cemetery, it isn’t owned by a church so it’s a community cemetery. Not only is there good food for everyone to eat but they also place this really cool bread roll with a candle in the middle that goes on the grave as well, Kolachy. It gets blessed then given to someone who was special to the deceased.The day is filled with sweet memories, good laughs, a few tears, but all in all a wonderful experience. I love when cultures celebrate the lives of their loved ones. We all mourn and can be sad that they have left this life but imagine what’s beyond this. I don’t care what you believe in, but to think that there’s something else or an afterlife and someday we will see them again. It gives hope that this isn’t all there is in life. We aren’t just here working our tooshies off to just let it all end when we go in the ground.
Until we meet again, Gido we sure love you,
* I really just like the word elders to describe older adults, like grandparents or parents of us adult kids. Nothing really Mormon related except the jingle from the Book of Mormon Musical really made the word elder stick in my head. It won a Tony, it must be pretty catchy!
** Not to be offensive by any means! I get it, I am an outsider, I am ok with that. This is all in good fun and humor. Teaching kids to share then not letting them eat your bread made me really just rethink this whole sharing thing. Probably still where my lack of sharing comes from.