ALISON STEWART, host:
If you and yours are home this morning coming down from the Halloween sugar rush, the celebration doesn't have to be over. Today is El Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. It is a holiday traced to pre-Hispanic Mexico when it was believed the souls of dead loved ones returned to their families once a year so that their lives could be celebrated.
Today, families mark the day with parade and parties. They'll create altars and visit cemeteries to talk to their dearly departed. It is a very different mindset than the fear of ghosts that is so much a part of Halloween. A recent New York Times piece described how much money people spend to rid their homes of spirits rather than try to live with them, much less inviting them in once a year for a chat.
If I could, I would talk to my late grandmother, Edna Cloreen Pride Stewart(ph). I'd talk to her about the election. She was born in 1899 and grew up black in North Carolina. She lived her life as a bright, fierce, opinionated woman who made awesome ladyfinger cake. As a child, I was fascinated by her scrapbook, which contained a button she saved from the 1963 march on Washington. Repeatedly, I made her tell me how about how she and my aunt Lucy went to hear Dr. King.
Today I'd ask, Grandma, do you think a black person could be elected president? I'd ask Edna her thoughts about the possibility of a woman becoming vice president.
This Tuesday, history will be made by either Sarah Palin or Barack Obama. Edna's son, my father, says she would have believed that a black person could eventually be nominated for president but that it wouldn't happen in her lifetime. And it didn't. She died 10 years ago. So what Edna won't see next week, someone close to her might. My Aunt Lucy, with whom she went to the Washington march, is 104 years old.
Do you have someone who has passed that you'd like to talk to again? What would you say? Share your thoughts on our blog, npr.org/soapbox.
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