Hi2mommy's Blog

Will The Circle Be Unbroken? Belated Thoughts On The Day of the Dead

Posted on: November 10, 2009

Did everyone else know that November is “National Blog Posting Month” (cleverly shortened to “NaBloPoMo”)? Yeah, apparently you’re supposed to post every day. Didn’t get the memo, and am probably out of the club. But some of my good, good friends are reading this and that. is. e. nough. for. me. so. there.

Work kicked my butt last week – hence the absence –  but my awesome teammate (Yo, T!!) and I accomplished great things.

Did everyone have a nice Halloween? Did you celebrate Day of the Dead (November 2)? El Dia De Los Muertos has done a much better job of capturing my imagination lately (although the sight of my kids dressed as Sparkly Dorothy and a Construction Foreman, getting all worked up about collecting candy that they oddly have little interest in eating, is a memory to be treasured forever). I think it’s that we -collectively – have lost touch with the soul of Halloween. When have we ever known it to be about anything more than random spooks and candy? FWIW, History.com has a nice, succinct little write-up on the celebration’s history. Turns out the Irish and Romans were key to its origin, but the Americans turned it into a party. Go figure.

Halloween has some loose ties to All Soul’s Day (another name for Day of the Dead) but, as I said in an earlier post, I’ve yet to find a book for pre-school-aged children that makes that connection (if you know of one, please share). Halloween books are all about playing up (or dispelling) the spooky factor, without giving it much of a source. Day of the Dead books, on the other hand, very clearly focus the celebration on the remembrance of  (or, if you really buy in, reunion with) loved ones who have gone before. There are cemetery parties, traditional foods (e.g. sugar skulls), and, my favorite, the creation of altars to honor and remember ancestors.

My aunt, whose birthday is on November 2, has collected hundreds of Day of the Dead art pieces and altar-ettes, displayed in cabinets and diorama frames all around her house, which she has promised to leave to me in her will as long as I promise not to set them up in a haunted doll house (which I thought was a REALLY cool idea, but whatever – c’mon, it would have been a hacienda)! Anyway, our discussions of this led me to daydream about the altars I would create for our family. Given my aunt’s blank, slightly wide-eyed stare, I must have gotten a little too excited when describing the altar I’d make for her (“…and there would be a bed and a giant TV showing vampire movies and little skeleton daschunds and…”). I believe it is not a good idea to fantasize about a person’s death right in front of them. But, when the time comes, I’m gonna build it.

I think the increased appeal of this celebration is that I see the clock ticking for several of our beloved elders and a) it would be nice to have a positive way to frame their inevitable passing to my children and b) it would be equally nice to maintain my own hope that the end we see isn’t really THE END.

One of my favorite memories of my mom, who died when I was 5, is a time when she let me stay up late to watch The Wizard Of Oz on TV. We had “a party” with popcorn and soda, and watched it together on our family room couch. It was the beginning of a lifelong love of the film and its anthem, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” which we’d both sing around the house. When I was getting my hair/makeup done on my wedding day, I didn’t pay attention to the radio background music until I heard Judy Garland’s voice. When in your LIFE have you ever heard Judy Garland sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” on the RADIO?? I desperately want to believe that it was my mom signaling that she’d gotten some kind of furlough from the afterlife to be there. On a similar note, my late grandfather told my grandmother in a dream that he was coming to the wedding, so we set a place card for him.

So what do you  think? Do our loved ones really pop in for Halloween/Day of the Dead and other special occasions, or do they just live on in our hearts (which is not all bad either)? How do you/would you talk to your kids about it?

SparklyDorothy

Sparkly Dorothy

ConstructionForeman

Construction Foreman

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2 Responses to "Will The Circle Be Unbroken? Belated Thoughts On The Day of the Dead"

We struggle with death talk a bit. Ellie knows my daddy is in heaven, and that he watches over us, but who knows what that really means to me. I’ve never been able to tell her that my first daddy died a long time ago, when I was really young, since I think that might be scary for her. It’s a lot to absorb — I was almost exactly her age when he died, and I don’t really remember him.

They’ve been talking a little about this in chapel time at her pre-school, so I know I need to revisit the topic. It just never seems like a good time to say, “hey, I know, let’s talk about death, whoo hoo!”

There was a father/son singing moment at church this weekend that I blogged about a it. I was really choked up, not because it was at all similar to any experiences I had with my dad, but because the bond between the father and son was just clearly so so strong. It overwhelmed me, and I missed my dad so intensely at that moment that it was hard to breathe. It hits me at odd times, and never quite when I expect it…

Wow – I could really feel your sadness. Thanks for sharing that. There is absolutely no doubt that both your dads are keeping their arms around you.

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  • hi2mommy: Thanks, Laura - I'll never give up! YOU post some of the most exquisite recipes I've ever seen. You are going to be featured here very soon.
  • susie: well im not really sure what the 2nd reply post was all about, but i reckon this is still a classic game, whatever way you look at it.
  • Laura: Yum! I love a fruit smoothie - especially on a hot summer day. I'm with you on the fruit - mango or raspberries. Picking up where you left off is a

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