When I was a young child, growing up in the Dominican Republic, my maternal family celebrated El Dia de Los Muertos with color, food, laughter, song and tales about the dead for the living. We would gather at my Grandmother’s house, clean the place in and out.
After the house and yard cleaning was done, and while a good stew bubbled in a huge pot, my Grandmother, sometimes my siblings, my cousins and I, would strip the front yard cross from the prior year’s dressing and re-deck her with bright papers and sparkly bits.
Sometimes on that same day, but most often before, we would visit our buried dead and clean their tombs. This was no sad business, my Wicked Luvs… In fact, everyone around was laughing—grownups drinking, kids eating sweet bread (and the occasional sip of red wine)—sharing tales about the lives of the ones who no longer breathed.
I miss that part of my heritage, for I’ve never found quite the same in the United States. Still, I have all the memories… They find their way into my stories… And every All Hallow’s Eve, I decorate my altar, listen to music my dead used to love, cook something that would have made them smile—burn tobacco incense for my Grandmother, drink a shot of whiskey for my baby brother. Thinking of them does make me cry, but I also smile at the same time.
My hope is that they are watching… That they see the light, which burns through the night… and that they know that in my heart, they will always be alive…
This year, the colors on and around my altar are gifts from dear friends. Actually, I do this every year. I collect every present I receive around the Fall, and they become part of my All Hallow’s Eve shrine. While I’m finding a place for the pressies, I speak aloud to those who have traveled to the Summerlands. I tell them about the person who sent the gift… so that they always know what I’m up to.
The following are this year’s colors and decorations:
A trick-or-treat coffin-shaped cabinet, from my beloved Oma Linda.
A painted singing heart, from my Stacy… When I shake it, it emits the sweetest sound.
This ginormous pine cone and stick are a gift from my friend, Esther. She picked them up during a trip to Oxford… It was accompanied by pictures and yummy poetry.
This dream feather is from Sharon. I’m going to tell you more about it soon…
The copy of Dancing on the Grave came from Yvonne’s All Hallow’s Read giveaway. The Wager and all the other yummy books are gifts from Oma Linda. The critters, bookmark and sweets are also from Yvonne—there were more sweets, the critters ate them *cough*. Oh, if you look at the top right corner of the second picture, you’ll see the Autumn colors outside my window. ;-)
Stacy and Sharon sent me a bunch of stunning stones. I set them in a circle in the center of my altar. I LOVE when the sun shines on them, and they just sparkle happily…
This twisted, beaded beauty is from my Oma Linda, too.
I had to show you what the trick-or-treat coffin looks like in its natural habitat *tee-hee*
More stones from Stacy and Sharon, under a frame (from Ms Misantropia) so pretty that I can’t get myself to put a picture in it. I know; a bit mad. But the thing is such a beaute!
The shiny red skeleton is from Rommy. And the two wands are also from Sharon. They were supposed to go in my hair, but have now become part of my ever-growing altar…
…since your wicked witchy writer woman cut all her hair up. *cackles and giggles*
I hope you had a wonderful All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, Samhain… and that today and tomorrow make El Dia de los Muertos just as sweet.
How do you celebrate the lives and memories of those who came before?