November is a very special month, because it is when we celebrate loved ones who have died: November 1 to celebrate the Holy Innocents (the children who have died), and November 2 to celebrate the adults who have gone on, as well.

In the morning, we visit the cemetery to pray and to put flowers on the grave of our loved ones. It is very typical to make an altar for our dead. On this altar, we put out candles, a photo of the person, sugar skulls, marigold flowers and offerings. It is said that the smell of the marigold flower guides the spirit to the altar.

The offerings we put out are the person’s favorite food and drink and—if he liked it—maybe a little tequila. Some people play the music he liked. We also put out favorite personal items.

On the altar that I offer to my father, who died 15 years ago, I put his favorite picture of himself. In his youth he was a cyclist, and this picture shows him receiving a trophy in a race he won. I also put out one of his favorite shirts, the food he liked (which was a soup named Caldo de Res), his beer, water, bread, sweets and all that I mentioned above.

On the night of November 2, I have the feeling that my dad is coming, and I leave him a letter on his altar telling him how much I miss him. For us Mexicans, the Day of the Dead is a very nice and respected tradition. It is the day we know with certainty that our deceased loved ones are close to us. af

Rocio Barbosa, mother of two daughters, lives in Round Rock.


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