This year I'm feeling a lil burned out on the whole Day of the Dead thing.
This year I have also been witness to a couple of friends who lost family this year and all they went through including rosaries every Sunday, the few visits a week to the cemetary, the no parties- no drinking promises, the wearing of black clothes. This made grief, loss, and remembering the dead come into a new focus for me.
Last year I began to look DoD celebrations as mostly a day for local artists to sell stuff with calaveras. The year before a compa~era pulled out a 'Day of the Dead: In a Box' novelty gift she found online. It was designed by two non- Chicanas and all the pieces including tiny skulls, altar, serapes and such were made in China.
I was not raised with a lot death around me. The deaths in my family were not too close and my immediate family was never about all the rituals many other families do when death visits a loved one. We mourn, bury, miss, remember and then forget in a sense.
DoD was cool when I first started going to them at the beginning of the 1990's. I saw it as a big middle finger to Catholicism and the Western views of death. We Chicano/as were bringing up one of our ancient rituals to show everyone (including ourselves) just how complex and deep we are. I liked going to see the altars that some of the artists I read about and some that I knew would design with such detail and care.
When I finally saw what greiving and mourning looked like in a more real way, I began to question what these DoD were really about. Were they just another excuse for a party? Ain't nothing wrong with that, we need to come together and clebrate any chance we get. Were they just a chance for artists to make a lot of money selling kitschy art that wouldn't normally sell? Nothing wrong with that, artists need to make money. Yet I am feeling burned on it. I do think the soul of coming together to share, create, and grow together around an ancient system of beliefs is fading away and being replaced more with trinket collecting and sales.
I take my daughter EVERY year to DoD at SHG. This year will be no different. But this year we might just add a trip to the cemetary to see grandma before we go to SHG.