All Saints’ Day is coming up – where did the year go? – and I am enjoying another vacation week to use up my remaining vacation days apart from Christmas. No, don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. I’ve spent enough on my Austrian grocery shopping and Borkum luxury holiday and have to save up a little for next year’s vacations.
All Saints’ Day has always been special to me and if I were back in Austria, I would visit the graves of my loved ones. But I’m not, so all there’s left for me is to ask my aunt to put up candles for me as well and light some at home with pictures of my parents,grandparents, aunts and uncles surrounding them.
Thinking back to “the good old days” – my happy childhood – I treasure the memories of the All Saints’Day holiday which we usually spent in Styria. (Where else, that’s where the family graves were in those days and most of our close relatives!)
November usually was already cold and the perfect opportunity to show off one’s new winter clothes and coats. Late morning visits to the cemetery, meeting old acquaintances from my parents one usually only sees on such occasions, eating the first hot chestnuts, lighting candles and putting down autumny pots with heather. Then visiting family and having lunch together. The day after, we usually went into the inner city, strolling around – and one met acquaintances again by chance. And since I grew up in a very small village in Carinthia, Leoben – my later university town – seemed like a very big city to me. And my favourite store? The “City”, a department store, something we didn’t have in my hometown village. Two stories high, with a restaurant on top and in the basement the “Feinkost Bauer”, a deli supermarket. Which I still could enjoy when I started my studies there, before it was turned into a “Woolworth” and is now a huge drugstore of the likes of “Walgreens” where you can buy everything from cosmetics to toys, some groceries, stationary, stockings, cleaning products … Anyway, on our usual schedule was also either coffee or lunch in the “City” restaurant or our favourite butcher “Graller” with the best “Leberkäse” (some kind of meatloaf), served cut into cubes, with a Kaiser roll and mustard. I still see it before my eyes as if it were yesterday – and not 30 years or more ago.
I’ve always liked cemeteries, they never bothered me. Appreciating the peace and quiet, admiring the old graves … I liked and still like to go there (strange ones like in Venice, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, etc as well), having conversations with my dead loved ones in my mind. And I miss not being able to go there as often as I’d like to. Not even on the “important” occasions like their birthdays, their dates of death, Christmas, Easter and of course All Saints’ Day. Which doesn’t mean I don’t think about them often and light candles here in Germany at home. And that’s what basically counts the most, right? Never forgetting, smilingly thinking of the wonderful times we had together, remembering!