Monday, October 27, 2008

el dia de los muertos

Because Michelle is in a bilingual program, they teach them about Hispanic (mostly Mexican) culture and traditions. They are learning about el dia de los muertos (the Day of the Dead) which is celebrated Nov. 1 & 2. It is a time when Mexicans remember their loved ones who have died. The students in Michelle's class were asked to make a little "altar" out of a shoebox to honor someone who has died. I showed it to Alfredo, thinking maybe he could help us make one about his dad who died when Alfredo was 11. All of Michelle's grandparents and great-grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins are still alive except Alfredo's dad. Alfredo read it and said no way that it seemed wrong. It felt to him like it would be breaking one of the Ten Commandments "thou shalt have no other gods before me." Alfredo was raised Jewish, and while they weren't that religious, this is one commandment that he takes very seriously ... and sees quite differently than I do. In his opinion, it is strange and even somewhat wrong to even have pictures or statues of Christ (such as a miniature Christus) in your home. We have a couple but he doesn't like it.

So he felt like this shoebox "altar" (which is what the school referred to it as) would be wrong. I respect his opinion but disagreed. The kids aren't going to worship these boxes or anything. It is more like a little memorial or diorama. So I helped Michelle make it (well, really, I did most all of it) and as we drove to school this morning I told her about her great great grandma Della Young who it was about. She seemed pretty interested and asked several questions. I started thinking it could be the basis for a short Family Home Evening lesson. So tonight we had FHE and I asked Michelle to tell us about her great great grandma and I shared some pictures. Then they wanted to hear more about her and her husband. I talked a little about them, showed some pictures and talked about how we can be together with our families after we die and how grateful we are for temples. We sang "Families Can Be Together Forever" and ate ice cream as a treat because Della loved ice cream. I was surprised and pleased how much Michelle remembered about her great great grandma (who died when I was about 10 or so). I have not been very good about doing FHE but have been really feeling lately like it was something I need to do better at. It ended up that this school project was a good one for my little family. I am committing myself to holding FHE weekly now. Maybe I'll even type a brief post here (not like this LONG one) to hold myself accountable. If I know that I have to report on how it goes, I'm more likely to stick with it. Or at least I hope so.