Day of the Dead is over…but I’m not sure when I’ll take down my home altars.
I started putting my altar together on my dining room buffet but realized quickly that I would run out of room. So I expanded to my dining room table and finally to my living room coffee table…creating three separate but cohesive spaces. My Zúñiga family was heavily featured on the buffet…my dad along with his pilot record books, his rosary and a handkerchief he once gave me to use when I was 9 years old and had the sniffles going to Catholic school one morning – along with a photo of him in his beloved T-Bird car that he had while in Cambodia. The photo of dad with his siblings and parents is so special – they are all gone now, along with their spouses. My mother is the only living spouse…
On the other side of the buffet – my in-laws, the Odoms – Johnnie and Glen. I placed a copy of one of Johnnie’s cookie recipes next to her photo. I found the recipe on her refrigerator – in her own handwriting – after she passed in 2011. Next to my in-laws, my sweet sister-in-law, Rhonda, who passed unexpectedly this summer. One of my favorite photos of her too – arms outstretched and welcoming everyone to Thanksgiving dinner at her house on Smith Lake. An added feature – a Christmas sweater – because Rhonda loved to wear her seasonal sweaters!
And finally, the coffee table with photos of the Stone family – my mother’s parents – my grandparents, my sweet Aunt Gail, my uncle and my great-uncle, great-aunt and cousin. I remember the times when we would come to Alabama during the summer for vacations and they were all here. I miss them all dearly.
Artificial marigolds were scattered on all three altars…next year I want to use real ones. Those were the finishing touches I used on Saturday night. This was after going to see the animated movie , Book of Life, with my girls. I cried at the movie ending and yes, I cried as I placed the candles and marigolds around each altar. As cold as it was outside Sunday night, the house felt warm with the memories of our ancestors and the lives they led. Viva la Vida!