This is Halloween, This is Halloween… oh wait…

Today is Halloween, Samhain (Beltane for those in the southern hemisphere), All Hallows Eve (and a large number of Saint’s feast days and Reformation Day for some Protestant sects), Hop-tu-Naa, National Unity Day, World Cities Day, World Savings Day, and for those in Girl Scouting, it is Juliette Lowe’s birthday. On this day many cultures look at those that have gone before them, some in love and remembrance and others in fear. Of course, here in the U.S. today is a day of candy mayhem for children though trick or treat may have already occurred in many communities.

This year my family lost my maternal grandmother, Marjorie Schooley nee Russell in June. In August her oldest son, Ralph David Mortimer died after an accident. Later in August, my children lost their uncle, Jeffrey Caler. Both my children and husband had cousins die this year as well.

How do we remember these people, keep their memories alive? Tell stories, write their histories, share photos with far flung family. Americans tend to move on and forget their past, it seems it is in our blood. After all we are a nation formed by people leaving their old world behind to build a new one. Is this healthy though? Many faiths have ancestor veneration as part of their path, mine does. Why do some faiths feel that honoring the dead is so important. The Old Testament lists genealogies of prophets and kings, during the Middle Ages European nobility often built family trees that tied into Joseph or Joseph of Arimathea to prove their legitimacy to rule. Today with the relatively easy access to DNA testing and sites like Ancestry and 23andme, vast numbers of people are looking into their pasts. With those sites come people with questions, “Help, I was adopted”, “My father isn’t my father, what do I do”, “My great grandparents came from Sweden I don’t know their names.” This is sad to me. Personally, I have a block with one of my maternal great grandmother’s parents. I have what is supposed to be their names but all legal documents say otherwise. She is my brick wall. It is hard to honor those who have been lost to time.

If you are reading this blog you probably have an interest in genealogy, please for the sake of your grandchildren, write down your stories, the stories of your loved ones. Take photos, load them to social media, the cloud, zip drives, protect them from old age or computer failure or storm damage (many families in Japan lost their shrines after the tsunami). Don’t forget those “black sheep” they may be an embarrassment now but they are still kin and may one day be seen in a different light. My own family hid our relationship of Wyndham Mortimer, my great great grandfather’s brother (son of Rachel who I have written about) because of his communist leanings. One day we will all be someone else’s history.

Havamal

76

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well

77

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead

 

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Sharing Food Memories

Instead of only me posting, let’s make this post a sharing one. Tell us about one of your ancestors. I’ve been in a baking and canning mood, things that I learned from my paternal grandmother, Vivian Jaynes Frey, who died on Mother’s Day in 1995. She made a sweet pickle that was brined for 17 days in a sugar solution. I make a version of it every few years. I don’t know anyone else who makes them. I’m not sure if it is something she grew up with in southern West Virginia, if she picked it up while working in Baltimore during WWII or found it once she settled in southwestern Pennsylvania.

This is a similar recipe, but she used clove and cinnamon sticks instead of celery seed and never added coloring, http://www.cooks.com/…/g98…/katies-14-day-sweet-pickles.html.