I love my times in France. Here we have the November 5th firework displays, and although not in November, the French do have the firework displays like we do, but they involve the whole village or town. There are marching bands, not always all playing the same tune. They have food and drink. Neighbours all arrive together and chat non-stop. The time that the fireworks will start is usually vague, and nearly always later than anticipated, but it makes all the children happy to be up later. The mayor is present, and seems to talk to everyone, even the English! One of the most important days in November, for the French people, is All Soul’s Day, which is November 2nd. It is a day for remembering friends and family who have died, either recently or in the past. The shops are full of plants and flowers, but mostly chrysanthemum plants, in every colour imaginable. Each family will put these pots of chrysanthemums, or whichever plants they have decided on instead, on the graves. It impresses me that they are aware of their neighbours who will be unable to do this, or those with no living family, and do the same for their graves. I have been invited to take part in this ceremony, and it is very moving, and very spectacular as you walk out of the cemetery and every grave is adorned with flowers and plants. We also commemorate this day here in our church community. We have our services for the “Dearly Departed”, and names are read out in a church service. These names are put forward by the family, but also by others who know that the family would like them to be formally remembered. Any deaths in the last two years are automatically remembered, if the families agree. Like in France it is an uplifting experience, and very helpful for a vast number of people. The community aspect of it in our parish is the tea, coffee, and chat afterwards. It is liberating to be able to talk about those we love who have died, with others in the same situation, who totally understand.
This month’s book club choice is Illusions by Richard Bach. Another of my favourite books.