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November 3, 2014
Life on Planet Kathy
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.

Copyright © 2021 by Kathryn H. Kidd Printed from