Thursday is a Spanish holiday, Tosantos— All Saint’s Day.
Similar to the American liturgical calendar, All Saint’s Day is a time to remember the saints that have departed this life. Relatives will often visit cemeteries to clean the graves of relatives, perhaps leaving flowers. Additionally, in Spain, they make special cakes, and sell almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, and certain fruits.
This weekend, we fully intend to visit one of the local cities—El Puerto de Santa Maria, Jerez, Sanlucar, or Cadiz—to experience the culinary goodness of this season. One cannot go wrong with hazelnuts.
A few weeks ago, we visited Cadiz, and entered a gorgeous Catholic church. We aren’t Catholic, but my sons do celebrate all things fire. So, of course they were drawn to the candles. I plunked a few coins into the slot, and told them that they could light a candle, but then they had to say a prayer for somebody.
Respectful enough, I hope.
The youngest said, “Thank you for my duct tape,” and walked away. My oldest though, after lighting his candle, sat down in a pew, folded his hands, and had a moment.
“You were talking to Grandma, weren’t you?” I said to him, when he returned to my outstretched hand. My husband’s mother passed away a little over a year ago.
He colored a little, and replied, “Yes, I was.” He then scurried outside the doors, and hopped down the cobblestone stairs. A child once more.
I followed him outside, and we walked a bit until we were by the Atlantic ocean. And while I didn’t think it then, I remember it now—my mother-in-law is right there.
We scattered her ashes in the river that runs behind her childhood home. And while scientifically, I’m not sure if she made it from a creek in the Wisconsin Northwoods to the European Atlantic Ocean, I like to think she did. Because when I look at water, I think of her.
We interred my grandmother’s ashes this summer. And again, I know that she, and my grandfather are together in Illinois, and my other grandparents are buried in Colorado. But yet—they are here.
They are here in the earth, as my mother-in-law is in the water. They live in memory, in song, in the faces of my children. Every day is a Fiesta de Tosantos.
On Saturday, I hope to enjoy some marzipan or tarta or walnuts. I hope that they taste sweet on my tongue.
I hope that my familia de Santos realize that I honor them by savoring that sweetness, and by whispering their names into the wind, so many miles from home.