"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
November 3, 2014
Guiding the Dead People Home
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Editor's note: Kathy Kidd was on a cruise this Halloween, and was not near a computer to write her column. But she left this column from her pre-Nauvoo Times days to be posted in her absence.

I’m a big fan of Halloween. What’s not to love? It comes during the most beautiful time of year, when the air is crisp and autumn leaves are swirling in the gusts of wind. There is the excitement of harvest, and ahead of us is the promise of the holiday season.

Plus, there’s the candy. We saw on television last week that the average family spends $44 on Halloween candy. These families do not live on our street! We knew ahead of time that we could get by on a $2.50 bag of Kit Kats. There are only sixteen houses on our street, only two of which have children in them. And across the parkway from us is a whole nest of townhouses. Kids these days are savvy enough to realize there’s a much bigger return when you go to a bunch of townhouses where the doors are ten feet apart than a few single-family dwellings where you have to slug from one big lawn to the next.

Sure enough, we only got one batch of five trick-or-treaters this year.  They consisted of a family from our ward who were probably driven across the highway just to visit our house.  If we had known they were going to be our only customers, we would have given them the whole bag of Kit Kats.   But we didn’t, and Fluffy is all the happier.

As much as I love Halloween, I have to admit that until last night I had not experienced Halloween in many years. For some reason or another, Fluffy and I are usually out of town on Halloween, cruising from one place to another. The cruise lines do their best to remind us it’s Halloween when October 31 comes, but when you’re in a place of perennial summer, what’s the point? Halloween isn’t Halloween without autumn.

It was nice to be home this year and experience the weather, even if we didn’t get a boatload of trick-or-treaters. But it would be even nicer to be in Mandeville, Louisiana. Truth be told, when the first of November arrives, Louisiana is where I want to be.

Where I grew up, Halloween was only the prelude to the real celebration. The bigger event was All Saints’ Day, which was celebrated on November 1. (I say “was” celebrated, because I don’t know how it’s done these days. Maybe All Saints’ Day has gone the way of the Edsel since I moved away.)

A short way to describe it is this: On Halloween, the dead rise and haunt the earth. On All Saints’ Day, the dead go their graves again. (Of course, that’s a simplification. November 2 is All Souls’ Day, which is when the souls who haven’t reached heaven go back to their graves. All Saints’ Day, on the other hand, is for the souls who have already been to heaven to go back.)

It’s confusing, yes — but don’t worry. The people where I grew up didn’t understand it either. All they cared about was the celebration. And for ease in celebrating, all the dead people go back to their graves on November 1.

The dead people can’t be expected to return to their graves in the dark, so the cemeteries are decorated with flowers and lights in order to guide the dead back to their resting places. The cemeteries are transformed into things of beauty, and people walk among the graves on the night of November 1 to experience the wonder of it all.

When most people think of Halloween, they think of candy. When I think of Halloween, I think of the lighted cemeteries on All Saints’ Day. It’s the only time of the year when I long to be in Louisiana again.

Happy All Saints’ Day, to all who celebrate it.  And to those of you who don’t celebrate it, Happy All Saints’ Day anyway.  It wasn’t part of my religion even when I lived there, but it’s still a spiritual celebration to me.  Spiritual things that aren’t part of your religion can still be beautiful.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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