|This beautiful quilted artwork was given to us by a very dear friend|
Sounds Macabre, but it is a simple celebration, really. It comes from Mexico. On November 1st every year, it is said that the spirits of our loved ones have a chance to return into our world, as spirits, and visit us. We have many loved ones that no longer walk this earth, and our first born daughter Maggie is among them.
|An Ofrenda at our home from years past|
In the old tradition, family members and friends would gather on November 1st and go to the graveyard. They would sit there all night and “visit” these spirits. They would retire at daybreak back to their homes and have a great feast. The holiday took place over two days, November first and second. Here is a very good site with a description and the history of The Days of the Dead.
|There is usually some music|
For us, it was a simple stumbling that brought us into the idea that a celebration of our daughter’s life would be appropriate. Maggie passed before us in June of 1991. She died in an auto accident. Later that year, while I was working at a job that gave me November and April off, I took the kids out of school, packed up the family and did a massive 8000 mile road trip.
|And plenty of fellowship and food|
On this road trip, we passed through Los Angeles to visit friends. While there, we came across this fiesta in the Old Town Square Plaza of Los Angeles along Alameda Street. There were displays set up depicting pictures of people, saintly statues and whimsical bone skeleton figures. We read about these displays and had our first look at a Los Dios de Los Muertos celebration.
We liked the idea. In our own culture, we would go visit the grave site of our loved ones in the cemetery, but didn’t have a party. This was a full out gathering of friends and family complete with great food, music, laughter and some tears. The decorations are colorful and full of whimsy. My daughter loved theatrical arts, her doll skeleton had her on stage, a place where she loved to be when she walked this earth, in a bright red dress for all to see. A few years later, we lost Bobby, Maggie's boyfriend. He was sure to be my son-in-law, but fate had different ideas. Now they are together at our celebration.
We love the idea that these spirits visit us. We recall their time here on earth with us. An alter is put up and pictures of our loved ones are placed there. We also put things they might have liked along with them. My daughter always has Diet Coke and Nacho Cheese Doritos. My Mother-in-Law has a pack of Pall Malls and a Schlitz. You get the idea. We always put water, salt and bread on this alter. The spirits need these things to travel.
For us, we gather every year, always on November First. Even if it falls on a weekday, like it does this year, we do it on the first. It’s nice and many more people show up when it happens that November First is a Saturday night, but Monday it will be this year and Monday we will celebrate. People will come and bring pictures and mementos for the altar. They will bring food and we will share each others company for however long they want to stay.
|Maggie and Bobby take center stage|
We leave our alter up for about a week. Here are a few photographs of the alters we have prepared over the years and the tables full of food. As you can see, it is a celebration. Sure, we are sad that our daughter and others we have lost through the years are not amongst us any longer, but for this night, they could be in the next room, frolicking and having a great time right along with us.
|And still another|
This is what we do here in Spadoville. 2010 will be the 19th time we open our home for Los Dios de Los Muertos. We learned about it in 1991 and started our own fiesta in 1992. I invite you all to attend. If you can’t make it and want a loved one remembered at our ofrenda, (altar), send me a picture and I’ll make sure it has a place. We have done this in the past, and those that have sent me a photo, I want you to know that I save these photographs and put them up year after year.
If you have any questions about The Days of the Dead, consult the links above or search it out on the web. I hope you are receptive to our tradition and come on over, or be here in spirit, along with the spirits of those we no longer see amongst us.
|Double Click it to enlarge|
May peace prevail on Earth