In recent years I’ve developed a huge affection for the Mexican holiday, “El Dia de los Muertos.” In mainstream American culture we have such a strange unnatural view of death and its finality. Yet, in Mexican culture death becomes a vital celebration to remember and to reunite with our beloveds once again.
This year my grandson, Jacob, has been asked to build a “Day of the Dead” altar for someone in his sphere who has passed. He decided to make that altar in honor of my parents: Great Grandma Betty and Great Grandpa George. So, we’ve been gathering little treasures that will represent them: A toy airplane for Grandpa George, the pilot, a thimble for Grandma Betty for her sewing skills and a pin of a Rockette for her “dramatic flair” and love of The Dance.
Jake wants to put one of his great grandma’s many poems on the outside of the altar. We’ve chosen “The Naughty Little Weed,” a poem that she recited over her entire life:
A naughty little weed, one day, poked up his tiny head.
“Tomorrow I will pull you up, old naughty weed,” I said.
But I put off the doing until next I passed that way.
The ugly thing had set abroad and laughed at my dismay.
A naughty little thought, one day, popped right into my mind.
“Tomorrow I will put you out, old naught thought, you’ll find.”
But once again I put it off, then like the little weed.
The hateful thing had set a pace and grew into a deed.
So, boys and girls, mind what I say, and learn it with your Psalms.
don’t put off until tomorrow, for tomorrow never comes.
Today pull up the little weeds and hateful thoughts of do,
Or they will take the reigns themselves and someday master you!
This project will help my grandson know his GREATS in a new way. They were amazingly loving and generous, but had tough standards and expectations for their kids…and grandkids. This boy will do well to know them better. And he will help all of us remember them, celebrate them with joy-filled love. Muchos gracias, Jake.Here’s my own altar for El Dia de los Muertos, dedicated to my own beloved hub, father of my daughters, who died in 1991…