It's the post-Thanksgiving holiday season...time of angels and angst; beauty and the blahs; carols and crises. We came to the table to give thanks last month, and if it was anything like my day, things were so rushed I couldn't even get the luncheon guests to say a blessing.  Also on my mind were the memories of Thanksgivings past and all those precious loved ones no longer at the table with us.  Our blessed ancestors.  To honor these beloved deads, there is a tradition in many cultures around the world of setting a place for them at the table. Holding space for grief and remembrance.  In the dark season, offering up a prayer in the tradition of those very ancestors to persuade the return of the light.
A friend from my local Death Cafe shared with me his family's new tradition, and I was so impressed I vowed to John that I would share it on my blog.  And so...in his words (almost all!!) and with his picture, read about how we can pay homage to all those precious people, passed on, but never forgotten.

This was our first year without my mother at the table.  With that as a starting point we began to think of so many previous Thanksgiving meals with family and friends, especially around my mother's table.  She was always ready to set another place for the social strays in our midst.  Who would we invite, if time were not such a limiting factor? 
Our daughter cut a stack of 3"x 3" cards from watercolor paper and creased them for folding, and brought along the colored pens and pencils.  While dinner was cooking, we gathered the gathered around the table and explained the idea.  

To be honest, it got off to a slow start - people seemed hesitant for fear of doing it 'wrong.'  We are making it up as we go!  How can it be wrong?  That reluctance was soon overcome and pens were flying!

Something that surprised me was that I still wrestled with those folks that I should invite, but didn't necessarily want to.  That happens, you know.  Time threw a wrench in it as well.  Among the dead was a gentleman that we had the pleasure to know for a number of years, as well as his first partner and his second partner (all dead now).  I invited all three.  I figure it was up to them to sort that out!!  I would have done the same in life, I guess. 

The value of the exercise was in the doing, and in the conversations over the crayons.  Next year we will start with blank cards again. 

Ancestors.  I always try to remember that I am because they were.  They live on in my bloodstream.  Wherever I walk, they walk beside me.  Even when I am alone, I am never on my own. 

Write this always on your heart.