I created an ofrenda in remembrance of our deceased family members. I was inspired by a friend’s post on Face Book and a subsequent visit to our mall to see displays created by a local Mexican heritage club that has members throughout our community including our high schools. Please see the last blog post to see my photos of the displays and read about the tradition.
My Mexican husband and I have been married for almost 17 years. This is the first time we’ve created one. We’ve both reached an age where we have started to lose a lot of family members, so it just felt like the time was right. I’m sorry that we’ve never done it in the past though. It never occurred to me, being of Irish Protestant descent and living among MY family members who celebrate holidays traditional to other Irish Protestant-descended people, to celebrate this Latin partly-Catholic holiday. My dear, long suffering husband, never uttered a word of complaint (well maybe a few now and then) while dishing out the Halloween candy, carving the Thanksgiving turkey (while secretly wishing it had been made into tamales), watching Independence Day fireworks on the 4 of July (when HIS independence day is celebrated on the 16th of September), or overspending our budget every Christmas giving gifts and decorating like we were wealthy and lived at the North Pole. I would say he’s more superstitious than religious. Some traditions are never forgotten. For instance, he never fails to light beladoras (candles inside the glass cylinders) on Mother’s Day and the birthday of his mom who succumbed to cancer in her early 40’s.
So my dear Niceforo, I created an ofreda in recognition of your cultural heritage and your traditions in the hopes, that they will become OUR traditions –just as you have so generously made mine yours. I’m sad to say there is but one photo on it of your family member –Gaudencio, your dad. It is not proper to use photos of the deceased (you told me) that included images of the living… So there is just the one. The rest are all of my family members. Happily, you knew some of them: My mom who made the quilted wall hanging that the photos are mounted on. And you knew may grandpa and have met some of the great aunts and uncles there. I wish you could have known my Uncle Richard that had the fishing boats in the picture –you would have liked him. That’s why the shot of whiskey with water is there –all those Irish fisherman would have enjoyed that. (Uncle Richard made the wooden fish-shaped cutting board at the top of the ofrenda when he was in high school in the early 1950’s.)
Sadly we never made it to the bakery to buy pan de muerte… though we did get some (really tasty) pan dulce. Some Mexican cookies actually made it to the ofrenda (see the plate with grapes and an apple).