I'm not a big fan of Halloween. When I told that to Alex, she simply said to me "Now, you're in America. You should start enjoying Halloween." It's not because the holiday is scary or creepy, but it looks filthy to me for some reasons. I just don't want to touch or eat anything Halloween related. It might be because of the decorations with bugs, webs, either bloody or decomposed body parts, witches with long nails, and unhealthy color monsters. Though that's the whole point, I'm afraid that it's not safe to touch or eat anything Frankenstein would pass to me.
Early October, my friend in Japan sent me a picture of Jack O'Lantern made with a melon(it was not curved, but had black stickers for eyes and mouth on it.) as one of funny things she did with her kids. Well, they don't have orange pumpkins like we do in the US. So, I sent her a plastic pumpkin they could curve. According to her, the melon had been eaten a long before the pumpkin got there. They did a great job putting a scary face on the pumpkin. That triggered me to think about Halloween a little bit.
A couple years ago, I watched a movie about Italian-American families. The time setting was Fall. The main characters were eating Ossi di Morto (Bones of the Dead). Oh my, those looked so good. That Halloween, I made Ossi di Morto for my work. That made my boss(of course he is an Italian) happy.
I thought about making that again. This year, I did some research for its recipes. That educated me with nice Italian customs.
First, there are some variations of recipes in regions and families. Some have nuts. Some have chocolate, too. Some shape like bones. Some shape oval. Some are round. One thing in common - no butter or olive oil. Naturally, these cookies are tough. "Tough cookie" people are not so welcome, but these tough cookies are very welcome! They are like Biscotti. I cannot think of eating them without cappuccino.
Second, they are not Halloween treats. They are for the Souls' Day on November 2. The Souls' Day is a day of prayer for the dead. In Italy, they have a picnic at grave yards remembering people who past. I think this is very nice.
When I traveled Mexico, it was around the end of October. I saw colorful skall decorations everywhere. At the restaurant I stopped by for lunch, the owner showed their alter and explained about their All Souls Day to me. We have a similar holidays in August in Japan. We believe spirits come home during the holidays. We remember people went over the rainbow this way.
I feel some connections between these holidays in these three countries. Our past ones are always in our hearts, but it's nice to celebrate their lives and memories expressively once in a while like these holidays.
Two years ago, my next door neighbor, Shirley's mother past away. We called her Nana. She liked to be called "Nana." And, she was such a grandmother figure, a petite old lady with curly gray hair with glasses. She was ninety eight years old. Until she collapsed with her heart problem a few months prier she past, we enjoyed conversations with her very much. She was pretty witty. She was a cute little old lady we dearly loved, and we still do. A couple weeks later she past, my grandmother past. She was my only grandmother since my father's parents past before my parents got married. She was also a little old lady. I spent a lot of time with her when I was little. I lost two grandmothers at the same time. I felt like I lost my safe place, a place where is always warm and fuzzy in a soft light.
Besides my feeling, Shirley very good took care of Nana. My mother also took care of my grandmother very well. They lost their mothers. Even we know our parents would leave us someday as knowledge, how could you believe that actually happens to you? Someone who were always there for you since you were born is not in your life anymore. We just take for granted that they are always with us with no doubts. How could you think you would lose them? Shirley, my mother and I grieved together. We talked a lot about Nana and my grandmother. Shirley asks me about my mother. My mother asks me about Shirley. They have been developing their friendship beyond the barrier of the languages and the distance. They've never met each other, but they feel close to each other. They care about each other. They feel happy for each other whenever they find something good happens to them. Once in a while, they say "I wish I could see her someday." Maybe, someday. And, I cannot wait to see that happens.
I made three kinds of Ossi di Morto. I'm going to visit Shirley with them this weekend. We'll have the Souls' Day together, talk about Nana and my grandmother, and feel they are always in our hearts.