The sun is low in the sky as my Polish Nana and I settle into her living room with our customary after-dinner wine. The enormous picture window frames the lush oak-shaded lawn beyond her rose garden. The wall on the other side of the room is stone and wood, a magnificent fireplace flanked by custom shelving populated with books, family photos, figurines, and a turntable. Nana sets the needle on the record and we dance across the carpet, giving the dogs an excuse to rip around in joyous circles.
Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do
Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We whirl until tears fill our eyes. Dancing is so cathartic! You don’t know you’re holding anything in until it leaves.
I promised Nana we’d play that tune at her memorial, a detail I failed to fulfill. By then I’d moved across the country. In 1989, I traveled from Denver to New Jersey for the funeral after my Aunt and Uncle had done all the planning. Fast forward twenty-seven years, and Nana is still very much a part of my life. She whispers in my ear when I make decisions, smiles when I tend my roses, and guides my seasoning hand when I cook.
Next month Abundance NC is celebrating Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead with Death Faire on November 5th. I think it’ll be the perfect opportunity to honor my Nana’s memory with a dance. The celebration will feature plenty of delicious music and I’m looking forward to letting loose.
How easily I forget the importance of music. It is woven into the fiber of our beings, predating the written word. Prehistoric stories were passed along through song and dance. Some think knowledge is imprinted on our genes in this way. Surely Nana’s favorite song is written in my DNA.
Día de los muertos, a three-day celebration, has been around for three thousand years, beginning in southern Mexico and spreading north. Like many indigenous holidays, it eventually found its way onto the Gregorian calendar, moving from spring to fall to coincide with All Hallows Eve, All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day.
In New Orleans, All Saint’s Day is a big deal involving colorfully dressed skeletons, costumes, music, feasting, and all-night dancing in the streets. When Bob and I moved from Texas to North Carolina, we spent the night in New Orleans on All Saint’s Day. The streets were filled with happy revelry, practically everyone was carrying an instrument, and the parks were pulsing with music.
Death Faire will be a typical Abundance party, the perfect celebration of life, love, food and music. Chef Bill’s menu will likely show some creole influence, and four bands will provide a range of music. There will also be workshops, children’s activities, a costume contest, and a vendor village. Nana would not miss this for the world and she won’t. She’ll be there with me and my friends, as we dance our way across the lawn.