Happy Halloween, Remembering Your Family
Happy Halloween everyone. Welcome to the dark time of the year, when spirits roam, and pumpkins light our way. A time where we remember our ancestors in Day of the Dead celebrations and Remembrance meals. At this special time of the year, Jordan McGilvray tells us a tale of Jack and offers us a treat. So sit back, eat a slice of pumpkin pie, and enjoy this holiday.
Jack limped along the dirt track, grumbling to himself about the cost of every needful thing. He muttered about how cold his house was, that the peat was to hard to dig, and wood was to expensive. He grumbled about the children who stared in awe and fear as they looked at him. They made his life miserable when he went to the village, teasing him, mocking him, and calling him names. Jack stopped and thought for a minute. He did not really care for one other person in the whole planet. Sometimes this worried Jack. The town priest, who read scriptures, always said that you should love your neighbors, implying that everyone was a neighbor. "Bah," thought Jack, "I know I care nothing for anyone or anything, but that does not make me bad."
Jack saw the devil preparing to create a ruckus in town. Jack knew the woods, very well, and he could move silently.
“I'm going to scare that devil right into a tree,” Jack thought. He crept closer, and closer, until he got right behind, Old Lucifer, and gave the devil a scare like he had never known. The devil jumped into a tree, and Jack quickly made certain that he was trapped.
“I'm not letting you out of the tree until you make me a promise,” said Jack.
“You are one mean little man," responded the devil. "But go ahead, I am listening."
“Never take my soul to hell,” Jack said.
“Done,” agreed the devil. And Jack sprung him from the trap. A few years later Jack, after making one problem too many, found himself facing the Gates of Hell. You see, Jack really had not been a good person. Now he stood facing those gates, his mind full of the memories of all the good things he could have done in live, but instead choose to make bad decisions.
The devil peered at Jack through the gates, “Well, Jack, I promised not to take your soul to Hell, but I never promised you would go to Heaven.”
“Where shall I go?"
“You will wander the Earth until the end of time,” responded the devil. Then he tossed Jack a cinder from the Fires of Hell. "Use this cinder to light your way in the dark world, Jack,” he suggested. Jack took the ember, then carved a lantern from a turnip, and put the ember inside. And this is how Jack became the Jack of the Lantern or Jack-o-Lantern.
One aspect of fall/winter holidays, which I personally like is the remembrance of ancestors and family. Many religions and traditions celebrate this aspect. Mexicans celebrate El Día de los Muertos on November first, with brightly colored altars and marigolds, sugar skulls, and favorite foods of the deceased. These items are placed on their graves as gifts that honor their memories. Some modern neopagans consider Halloween a time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on. They create rituals that pay respect to their ancestors, family members, friends, or pets who have passed away. Sometimes, the spirits of the departed are invited to join in on the festivities.
As a special Halloween treat, I have created two forms you can use to track your family history in your planner. Genealogists use similar forms for tracing family histories. The zip file at the end of this post contains both a PDF and an Open Office file.
Pedigree Chart. A pedigree chart tracks a person and all of their known ancestors. Use this form to record personal histories for each of your family members. The version I provide shows up to three generations. This is one person, their parents, and their grandparents. If you want to see more, you can use the Open Office form to create more generations. Also, depending on the size of paper you use to print out the form, you may be able to fit more charts.
Family Group. A family group sheet records relevant information about a single family unit. A family unit in this case is a father, mother, and their children. The form I created shows various information on a single family. Use this sheet to record important dates (birth, marriage, and death) as well as the locations of each event on every family member in a single unit. You can modify this sheet to include extended family members or other information about the core family using the Open Office form.
I believe that this time of the year is perfect for reflecting on our family, and the family history, so that we can evaluate where we are going. Only by understanding the past can we intelligently look to the future. Now you can use this time of the year to uncover and reflect upon where you and your family members have come from as well.