viernes, 4 de noviembre de 2016

Frustration to Reflection

This is the fourth year that I´ve had a child enrolled in our preschool.  Preschools tend to go all-out for holidays.  For Day of the Dead, we dress up the kids as catrinas (skeletons dressed in fancy clothes), make mini-altars, one class makes a full-size altar, dress up paper skeletons.  It´s very nicely done, but it´s a lot of work for the parents.  Because, let´s face it, while my preschooler can help decorate his mini-altar, making the tiers, and making sure it has the "necessary" ingredients falls squarely on my shoulders.

And let me tell you, nothing makes this former preschool teacher crazier than preschool homework that the parent is required to do.  (Within reason.  Cutting things out so the teacher doesn´t have to spend 6 hours cutting after school is prefectly reasonable, of course.)

So I was pleasantly surprised last Thursday when the teachers posted a sign saying, "if you´d like to bring in an altar on Monday, that would be great."

I loosely translated that to mean, "if you don´t want to bring in an altar next week, that´s OK, too."

So the weekend came and went.  We went back to school on Monday, and it turned out that the homework for the following day was to bring in an altar.  None of this "if you feel like it" wishful thinking that I had been planning on.

Of course.

So I sat down to work, making an altar.  Joey had ideas for decorating it, so after I finally got my 5 tiers somewhat solidly set in the diorama (and covered in colored paper).  I let him do his thing.

We got ready to go trick-or-treating, and it turned out that "his thing" was two odd rectangles and a picutre of his aunt who died this summer.

Knowing that he did want this altar dedicated to Tía Lili (and having a feeling that it might be a bit theraputic for him to take it in to his class, and explain about how he misses his Tía Lili), I sat down and added a bit.  And then I added a bit more.  Then I ransacked the kids´ toys, looking for little things that could symbolize interests that Lili had, things that were important to her, etc.

The more I worked on this, the more I realized that it was good for me, too.

The finished altar for Lili.  I added her computer (because she was always working!);
suitcases, because she traveled a lot; her name in Braille.  Water is
traditional to have on an altar, but I put it there because Lili loved to swim.  

After going through the toys, I found my brailler.  (Lili went blind when she was a teenager.)  It had been missing for years, and I found it again, shortly after she died.  When I found it this summer, it released some pent-up anger I had (because anger is a stage in the greiving process).  I threw it to the back of the closet, thinking "well, shoot--I don´t need THIS anymore!"  I bought it years ago, meaning to write notes to Lili, braille out some children´s books so she could read to the kids, etc.  I learned the most rudimentary braille, and then promptly lost the tools to use it.

Until a few weeks ago.

Our family altar, which Joey was
instrumental in decorating, too.  
So, putting the finishing touches on the mini-altar for Joey to take to school, I thought it could be a great teaching moment for the kindergarteners to see Lili´s name, written in Braille.  So I did it.  And, likely, the kids didn´t notice.

But it was helpful for me.  And, as Joey largely initated the project (or gave it direction), it was probably good for him, too.  After all, in essence, that´s what celebrating Day of the Dead is be about--sitting back and taking some time to remember people we love.  If we never stop to do that, we might never work through the grieving process, and that could just fester and manifest itself in all kinds of weird ways, if left to itself.

So I love that this country sets aside a day to pray, reflect, and remember.  It´s good for all of us.  And it seems that these traditions give even the youngest among us room to express their own grief and emotions, too.


I made pan de muerto this year, and was just so stinkin´ proud that I had to document it here!


2 comentarios:

Lisa dijo...

That is a great way to look at the holiday!

Jill dijo...

It is! I love the fact that there´s a day set aside in the calendar to sit back and reflect on grief that we often keep bottled up and unresolved. And I had been dreading the day when we´d put up a picture of someone my kids know, but Día de los Muertos really seems to give them a healthy outlet, too.