Happy Halloween!

Kage Baker always cooked a feast on Halloween.

Pork roast, corn, stuffing – grain, bread, autumn vegetables, and the sacred meat of that fairie-bred creature, the pig. It’s a Welsh thing, the pork. You gotta read the Mabinogion to understand it. Stuffing is just force-meat, one of the oldest meals on the British Isles; the onions and turnips and apples and nuts went into the stuffing. And grain is  … grain, the quintessential Fall food. Kage served creamed corn because, well, she liked it.

It was all carefully prepared, served on our best dishes from serving bowls and platters – not from the stove (we were working ladies; there were a lot of skillet meals in our house.) Candles and linen graced the table. We used the good glasses. And, though there were only the two of us, Kage set out three plates.

Kage would fill the first plate and set in the place of honour. I would pour a mug of good ale and a glass of old whiskey and set them out as well. Then we’d fill our own plates, toast the beloved dead, and share our feast with our loved ones who were gone.

The strange and isolated places Kage and I lived, we seldom had more than two or three trick or treaters. We had a quiet, sedate dinner with our dead. But where I am now – we get hundreds of kids! Come dark the front steps will be swarming with happy children and we’ll take it in turns here to restrain the Corgi, soothe the guard parrot, and answer the door. With all this furor to cover – we’re having pizza.

A plate and a glass will nonetheless be set aside. There will be pork sausage. There will be a glass of Coca Cola added to the beer and whiskey.

Soul cakes. The Day of the Dead. The funeral meats. The plenty of the traditional wake, the covered dishes and green bean casseroles. Halloween, All Soul’s Day, La Dia del Muerte, Samhain – they aren’t about blood and demons and death, not at heart. All that other is just spooky fun and nonsense, an excuse for the young and thoughtless to run around in the dark and eat sweets.

This night the door between the worlds is unlocked, and may in fact swing free. The honoured and beloved dead may walk out a little ways and ease the hearts of the living. Good reason for a party, eh? And nothing to fear. If any shadows coalesce on my doorstep, I will welcome them in.

Especially the tall, distracted-looking redhead at the back …

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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3 Responses to Happy Halloween!

  1. Medrith says:

    My mother-in-law died in May, aged 90 and having lost her dear husband 7 years before. We went to her church, about 120 miles away, for a memorial service for everyone who had died during the year, and very nice it was. We could have stayed over with my husband’s brothers but hurried back- Mom loved to go to our house or one of her other sons’ on Halloween and see all the trick-or-treaters. They should start to arrive any minute now. Happy Halloween to you Kate, and all your family past and present!

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  2. Tom says:

    Hope it was a good night for you, Kate.
    Our corgi mix sang for all the children and their escorts. “Herds! They must be managed! It’s my job!”
    Robert, our resident ghost, put in no appearance. It would be nice if he had somewhere better to be.

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  3. Katie says:

    Now this is what hurts to read. Because I remember so many wonderful Halloweens with you both. It wasn’t Halloween without Aunt Kate or you. This year, I just swigged Andre as a ghostly grey, silver glittered La Llarona on a porch shrouded in iridescent vermillion chiffon set aglow by red porch lights and pumpkins. I wore one of Auntie’s floor length vintage Indian silk bell sleeved dresses from the 60s with an embroidered shawl. Lots of little ladybugs and bumblebees. Lots of memories. The Jack pumpkin with the green glow, your garnet Dicken’s costume, my little foam California Raisen costume, Annie as a pwincess, TC and I drinking so much non-alch Apple Beer we almost puked and I had to carry a pillow case and do double candy duty. Miss those times. But that’s life. Enjoy it while it’s happening. Enjoy the hell out of it.

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