It seems natural for us to mark happy times in our life with food and celebration. We throw feasts for weddings, parties for birthdays, showers for births. But lately I have been thinking about food and celebration in a different way – as a way to remember and mourn the loss of someone who has died. I’ve been researching the Mexican holiday “Dia de los Muertos”, or Day of the Dead, so that we can celebrate at our restaurant Esquina. I confess that I knew almost nothing about it before – other than that all of the skull images and skeletons wearing dresses kind of creep me out. Now I see that it is more about remembering those that have died – by eating special foods, building ‘altars’ of your loved ones’ favorite items, and in general…partying.
It seems appropriate that this holiday should fall during this time of year. As much as I love gazing at the beautiful leaves now gracing many trees in Lawrence, I know that part of the beauty they hold is that they are fleeting. Tomorrow they will not be the same and soon they will be gone – fallen to the ground. And like the anonymous bartender at Esquina who taped a crimson leaf to the wall behind the bar was doing, Day of the Dead gives us a chance to grasp and hold on to what is fleeting by remembering those who are gone.
On November 1st & 2nd Esquina will be celebrating Dia de los Muertos with food & drink specials and general festivities, but we are also remembering. In honor of my dad, John Krider, and my dog Bear, we will be making donations to two local organizations – Douglas County AIDS Project & Lawrence Humane Society. We will donate $1 from every dip sold and have an altar of sorts where customers can remember their dead with a donation.
If I were to make an altar for my dad, I would pile packs of Vantage cigarettes with cups of strong black coffee and chocolate croissants; for Bear I would place his collar, with the tags that made his distinctive jingle, with mounds of bacon – endless bacon for my Bear. Thinking of these items help me remember them- my creative, witty, and highly sarcastic dad; my faithful, athletic, and easy-going dog. With smiles and some sadness I remember, thankful that they were part of my fleeting days.
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True dat, Molly.
Molly!!! Dad drank his coffee with cream! Not milk, not Creamora or Coffemate, but half & half. His favorite brand was Cafe Bustello, which is Mexican, so you could serve that during your celebration! And throw in sour cream. He put it in everything. Even Spaghettios. I miss him.
Ha! You are correct – with cream, lots of it. I am the one who drinks my coffee black 🙂 I miss him too.
Lovely Molly – thank you for sharing!
Molly, at my age, there are so many that I would celebrate. For instance, my mom, I would place a large platter of fried chicken, and a large apple pie. These were her all time favorite foods! I could go on, but it’s a bit too depressing, yet. I love your idea though, gives all a chance to bring those that touched our lives back into focus. Good thoughts.
You are one gifted writer, Molly. You lured me in the door with holiday food, but by article’s end had me sweetly submerged in your contemplative lake, remembering loved ones who’ve gone on ahead. Thanks for this.