Moving into our next activity, I wanted to do something connected to Halloween. I did a little reading and found that most Halloween traditions stem from All Saints/Souls Day or Day of the Dead. It seems to be that long ago quite a few people finished the harvest and proceeded to get really freaked out that their dead ancestors were coming to get them (I used to have similar problems walking outside in the dark---I swore the Incredible Hulk was coming for me---we're not related, but still, I can understand). Some cultures lit bonfires to scare off evil spirits, others dressed up in costumes to fool spirits into thinking they were one of them and some even hid all the sharp knives so the spirits couldn't use them. Once people felt they were safe from flying meat cleavers, they generally did something to honor their ancestors---set extra chairs at the table for someone who had recently died, created altars to them decorated with food and pictures. This sounded a little deeper than just gorging myself on my kids' Halloween stash after I told them they could only have one Milky Way before bed.
This week we are creating a Family Tree. Let me start by stating that this project CAN BE DONE BY ANYONE regardless of what type of family you come from. The idea is to honor the people you love and where you come from. We are simply going to put the names of people we love on a tree. You can use the "bracket" model if you wish (The one that looks like this and tracks blood ancestry)
or you can go "collage style" and just put anyone you consider family on your tree:
Include names or pictures of relatives, friends, pets--those living and those who have passed away. Families can be complex---get creative and make it work for you. If you have a child who is very young or sensitive who might not be ready to talk about death, consider talking about where your family comes from instead---pick up an atlas and tell them a story about a great-grandparent immigrating or the meaning of a tradition you keep in your family.
On Halloween, take a moment and honor your ancestors. Light a candle, honor them with a moment of silence or a song--and then get silly on your kids' candy. Just tell them it's a family tradition.