As part of the Spanish immersion program Bennett and Cannon are participating in at school, they not only learn the language but they also learn about the culture. Recently, as we were celebrating Halloween, my kids were learning about Día de los Muertos – Day of the dead at school.
A large part of this celebration is an ofrenda. I learned an ofrenda is a home altar with a collection of objects placed on a ritual display during the Día de los Muertos celebration. It usually contains very specific items such as sugar skulls, perforated paper, flowers, pictures/items of loved one who have passed and salt.
Cannon was asked to choose a loved one who has passed and create an ofrenda for them and share it with the class. At their young age, my kids haven’t been close to many who have passed. My grandmother passed away a few years back and although my kids weren’t close to her, (she didn’t live close and my kids only remember her in her aging years) Cannon chose to create an ofrenda for her.
It was a good reminder to me that it’s important to look back. We’re taught to look forward and dream of the future. But looking back at those that have passed can be a very special experience – an opportunity I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t take often enough. I found it hard to describe my grandmother in the two generic sentences the first graders were asked to complete. And it made Steve ask, “How in the world are our grandchildren going to describe us one day?!”
My grandmother had a 99 year, 364 day life and she is summed up on a first grade paper as “Loved watching the hummingbirds outside her window”. I know she was so much more, but it was a good exercise.
I love the idea of taking a day and focusing on family members and friends who are no longer with us – our lives are enriched and molded from those who came before us.