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All Souls

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys which you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.


Today, the first Sunday in November, is recognized in the Episcopal Church as All Saints' Sunday. We celebrate the lives of the saints, remembering that they did not become saints because they were somehow better than the rest of us, but because they were ordinary, everyday people who allowed the Holy Spirit to work through them. All Saints is a day for remembering and giving thanks: remembering the good people we have known and giving thanks for the goodness of God.

So, some good people I have known, who have taught me to be thrifty:



Not all of these good women have passed, and I didn't actually know all of them, though I hope to learn more. On the back of this photo is written "July 26, 1947. Barbara, her mom and her mom and grandma and Debbie." That's right, folks. The infant is my own mother, held in the arms of her great-great grandma, whose name I don't even know. Standing, from left to right: Mom's grandma Leona Agnew, Mom's mother Barbara Breene, Mom's great-grandma Katie Morris. Grandma Agnew just celebrated her 100th birthday this year, Grandma Breene still lives thriftily in a small Illinois town, and Grandma Morris passed away at the age of 108, if I remember correctly. And that infant grew up to be my mother, who lives nearby, still practicing her thrifty ways.

My mom sews. She recently made me the most darling skirt from black fabric printed with colorful Matrioshka dolls. I got the skirt in the mail and called Mom to gush over how cute it is. Then I mentioned a commission: I'd like Mom to make me an apron. I'd recently picked up two vintage aprons in the leftovers from the church rummage sale and I'd been wearing them recently around the house, using the one pocket to carry my cell phone with me. Mom said, "I doubt that's what the ladies of the 50s had in mind when they wore aprons all the time, but it's a good use." I want an apron with two, maybe more pockets. Mom had this story for me: "Grandma Morris made all of her aprons from old worn-out dresses. Whenever Mom or Grandma got rid of a dress, Grandma Morris would make an apron out of it. Dresses had great big full skirts back then. You'd go over to Grandma's house and she'd be wearing an apron made out of Mom's old dress."

See how I learned to be thrifty? Great-Great Grandma Katie Morris, you're a saint to me!

It's no coincidence that Mexico's Dia de los Muertos occurs at the same time of year as All Saints' Day. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the ancient Mayan and Aztec peoples celebrated their ancestors at the same time they honored the fall harvest and the oneset of their new year. When the Spaniards conquered the Mayans and Aztecs, they attempted to suppress this joyous festival (which lasted two months) with a somber, prayer-filled day---All Saints' Day. (For more information about the origins of Los Dias de los Muertos, some of the traditions, and a detailed how-to about constructing an altar, see this wonderful article by Judy King.)

Next year, for sure, I'll construct an altar honoring Grandma Morris and all my other deceased relatives. This year, though, I constructed a little All Saints display in my back yard. And yes, it's all thrifted or scavenged.



I picked up the cross courtesy of Tucson Freecycle, an online bulletin board on which people post stuff they have to get rid of and others clamor to come pick it up. It doesn't always work the way it should, but when it works it's delightful. The donor of this lovely rustic tinwork cross apologized for the rust but I told her the rust was what I loved. Do you know how long it would take to achieve that look if I'd bought it new? What a great find that was.

The jawbone (center niche) I found on a walk with Cassie in the wash east of our house.

I've already blogged about that cool ceramic skull (Bisbee). The decripit candelabra was scavenged from the Casa de los Ninos "as is" yard, as was the Indian glass tea light holder behind the skull.



One day at 22nd Street I found a goodie bag full of the tallest of the saints. Yes, that's a glow-in-the-dark Virgin Mary. The smaller saint came from the Casa as is yard.



My favorite, Saint Francis, came in a goodie bag from Goodwill.

The religious medals came from another successful Freecycle transaction. One day I intend to make a necklace from some of them. I don't know if it's visible in the photos, but at St. Francis's feet is a finger rosary I got from that saint medal transaction.

Here's a sugar skull I made last weekend at Celebracion, a hands-on festival sponsored by the Arizona State Museum on the campus of the U of A. The sugar skulls are an important part of Dia de los Muertos, meant as sweet offerings to the departed. We'll probably see some tonight, when we go downtown to the All Souls Procession. Should be a good time. I'll let you know.

Comments

Momma_Dee said…
This, of course, made me cry. The lady holding me is Grandma Davis, my great-great grandma and I actually have a few memories of her. Talk about thrift. She was one who saved string, etc. I love your shrine. It's the kind of thing that seems to come easy for you and Mandy but would be just disjointed parts if I did it.
shy_smiley said…
I'd love to hear more about Grandma Davis, Grandma Morris, and even Grandma Agnew. I have my own memories of Grandma Morris and Grandma Agnew (I should post them sometime), but I'd love to hear more.

Your eye sees your own work differently than it sees the work of others. Then put on your perfectionist glasses. Your shrine would be just as appropriate as mine. You just have to do it.

Love you, Mom.
gnightgirl said…
Though I'm late in commenting (I blame blogger), I love this post. There were so many aspects to it; each was exciting in itself, but it was all tied together so nicely.

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