Friday, October 29, 2010

Viva la vida, que ayer se fue

I never understood the Day of the Dead, a holiday my family in Mexico always celebrates on Nov 1 and 2. I felt it was a bit of an insult to be "celebrating" someone's passing and I couldn’t understand how one could actually be happy on that day. This was of course my western upbringing coming out. It wasn’t until I actually experienced a Day of the Dead in Mexico over 15 years ago that I got a true sense of what it means to celebrate life. It is a way of keeping a person's memory alive and not forgetting them. I loved watching how families would bring picnics to the cemetery to eat with their "family" and at times you would even see mariachis. It was so colorful as well, alters filled with cockscomb and marigold flowers. Growing up my maternal grandmother would always tell me how she wanted mariachis playing at her funeral and people dancing. She asked that we be drinking whiskey and tequila. I would always say "Como abuela? I’m not doing that" Now every time I have a shot of tequila I think of her and I try not to mourn her passing. I do think of her often and I do miss her. I could write another long entry about her, and I might one day, but for today I want to focus on what she taught me. She always , ALWAYS made an offrenda, all be it humble, for her loved ones and left delicious meals out so they would come and stay for a while. We were not allowed to touch it until the morning as the dead got first dibs. It is such a lovely tradition and I was always very good about making a small offrenda in my bedroom for my paternal grandmother, but ever since I got to NY I just haven’t done one. Not this year though! I was up late last night completing my ofrenda. This weekend I shall be super busy so I wanted to put it up now and simply place the food out on the eve of Nov. 1. The cake is a test cake of a new recipe that I hope taste good, otherwise cupcakes it is. Since cockscomb is hard and $ to find, I made my own with felt and the same with marigold. I made mini marigold pompoms out of tissue paper. I swore after Emma’s first birthday that I would never make these again, but they really do come in handy when you need some quick paper flowers. This is the first time I make the ofrenda for both my grandmothers as my Adela joined Elsie in the time that has passed. I loved them both so very much and they are always with me. I named Emma Adela after both of them and I see so much of Adela in her. She is just one feisty gal, and I totally see where she gets her strong sense of independence.
side note:the bunting was made from a mini cake bunting tutorial that both Sharnel Dollar of Sharnel Dollar Designs and TomKat Studio collaborated on. Check out their lovely sites for free pdfs, ideas, tips and much more!

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