The day the Church commemorates all the faithful departed.
I was probably in high school when I first read about el Dia de los Muertos -- the Day of the Dead -- celebrations in Mexico. The holiday appealed to me on many levels -- a little scary, a little fun, mysterious and colorful. As Linda Lowery writes in Day of the Dead:
Where would you be without the family members who came before you? Think about it. You would not be here! Isn't that worth celebrating? Day of the Dead is not a sad time. It is a warm and loving time to remember people who have died. It is a time to be thankful for life.
In this spirit I decided this year to talk with the girls about their departed grandparents on All Souls' Day. I used food to start the conversation -- for dinner we had spaghetti with Grandmama and Granddaddy's favorite sauce, and for dessert we had Milky Ways, my father's favorite candy. But . . . that's pretty much as far as it went. The "conversation" was stilted and one-sided; the girls asked no questions, and I soon abandoned the effort. I still think this approach is a good one, though, and will probably try again next year.
We did, as usual, make sugar skulls. And the girls did, as usual, bring some to school as gifts for their teachers. This year, instead of using the single large plastic mold I purchased years ago, we followed the instructions on Dollar Store Crafts and used a skull-shaped ice cube tray. The little skulls were faster to make (1 cup of sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons of water) but harder to decorate. We wound up using a combination of Wilton's Ready-to-Decorate icing, some ancient Cake Mate decorating gel, and cinnamon candies. Any fine motor control I have vanishes when I try a project like this, but in the end, our results (Holly helped) were good enough.