On November 2 it will be All Souls Day, the day in the Catholic Church where we remember all our departed loved ones and make a special effort to pray for them and keep them in our hearts. Although Halloween may be the big super star festivity around this time, I try to remember that the origins of the holiday are Christian and point to the two days after in particular – All Saints Day and All Souls Day, which are, in fact, holy days.
I am a particularly spiritual person, believing in and even feeling the presence of my loved ones with me daily, keeping them close to me in memory, especially as I claim the milestones and seasons of my own life. One way in which this seems to play out over and over is when I cook a favorite family recipe. Therefore, it seems especially apropos as All Souls Day rolls around to commemorate this day with food. This is how you might choose to mark All Soul’s Day in your own life, if you too hunger for a little sanctity during this special liturgical, yet often forgotten, time.
Choose a Particular Family Member or Departed Friend That You Shared Meals With in the Past
The person that I most relate food to is my grandma, Antoinette LoVerde, who recently passed. I can’t help but carry her with me, thinking of her often, especially as I live my duties out as a mother and caregiver to my family. Grandma was an Italian mama. She made a mean spaghetti sauce. I will be making spaghetti and meatballs this weekend in honor of her and I will be stirring memories of her and our gatherings in her house into my sauce, along with my spices and love.
Focus on a Memory and Select a Dish That Honors That Memory
I do remember eating at my grandmother’s house when I was little. She was in the kitchen and all our family members gathered around. Sundays were a time for us to come together. We didn’t know it then, but that kind of communing would be short lived. My family and my many aunts, uncles and cousins were quickly separated by particularly great distances or passed themselves, and years and years go by where our family is longer able to sit together at one big table, spilling sauce on our Sunday best. Many of the dear ones who sat at that table are no longer on this earth, sadly, young and old. But they were around that table with me then, and they are connected to me in that way forever. I will never forget them, especially when I smell that familiar scent of what Sundays were to me as a child.
Call a Relative or Friend Who May Have Shared That Memory With You and Collaborate on the Recipe
As I cook, I will call my mom and see if she can offer me any advice on how to make my All Soul’s dinner more authentically ours. I will remember my Grandpa who ate slowly and who disliked hustle and bustle, which there always would be plenty of. I will smile and imagine The Muppets being on TV after our meal was over, and how he would laugh at their irreverences. Maybe I will call my sister and mention these memories as I draw her into my quiet celebration.
As You Cook and Eat, Remember Your Loved One, Talk About Them With Your Family, Keeping Their Memory Fresh
I will, at dinner, remember to tell my children that this sauce is their sauce, the sauce of their family – our legacy to pass along through generations. I will engage my daughter in the preparation of the meal and I will have my sons set the table as I did when I was young, if I can coax them into cooperation. We will say grace with special intentions for beloved departed and living alike. I will tell a story of my passed loved ones and I will mentally whisper to my grandma a thank you as I eat her food, knowing her to be with me at the table once again, and always in my heart.