Me [in car, on cell phone]: Okay, Dad, I should go because I’m almost to the Metro station. I’m going to take the train to a Dia de los Muertos thing on Olvera Street.
Dad: Dia de los Muertos?
Me: Day of the Dead.
Dad: Wasn’t that Wednesday?
Me: That was Halloween. This is a Mexican holiday. It’s like a sort of commemoration-slash-celebration of the dead.
Dad: So there will be piñatas and things like that?
Me [rolling eyes like a 12-year-old]: No, no piñatas. I don’t know too much about it, to be honest. But I think there will be a parade kind of thing, and I know that people traditionally have picnics at cemeteries…. I’ve been missing Mom a lot this week, so I just thought it would be a nice thing to go to.
Dad: Okay, well, have fun. I don’t like the idea of you taking the train, though. It seems unsafe.
Me: Why?! You’ve never ridden or even seen the Metro, so I want to know where you’re getting these ideas.
Dad: I guess it’s just the areas it goes through, and the image of the New York subway.
Me: I would argue that the New York subway is really safe as well, but it’s even more absurd to use the image of the New York subway as the basis of your judgment of a subway system in a completely different city! Someday I’m going to make you ride the Metro with me, and you’ll see that it’s just a bunch of people sitting in seats, going places.
Dad [laughing]: Okay, we’ll do that.
Me: Bye, Dad. I love you.
Dad: I love you too. Bye.***
Hey, it's bread...and bread! I like this holiday.
Sara and AK, my partners in revelry.
Aesthetically, Dia de los Muertos kicks the collective ass of Christmas, Easter and even Halloween. AK asked what would be on my mom's altar. I said, "Oreos, ice cream. And she would really just love the aesthetic of all of these altars. She was really into decorating." Which I realized made both my mom and me sound a little shallow. But the colors and the burning sage and the grinning skulls gripped me in a way I knew would have gripped her too. Both of us, down to the bone. So to speak.
"This holiday seems creepy," Sara said early in the evening.
"It doesn't seem creepy to me," I said. "Spooky maybe. I think it's supposed to be a little spooky."
After the novenario procession, during which a La Llorona skeleton howled out at us, I said, "I was successfully spooked."
"See, I changed my mind," said Sara. "Now I just think it's cool."
"Spooky is cool," I said. "Those things are not mutually exclusive."
This warrior is out to win hearts, minds and skulls.
The family that paints faces together, stays together.... Although, actually, it was really crowded. It would have been easy to lose someone.
AK made a new friend in one of the stores.
Another nice thing about Dia de los Muertos. You can try this at home.