Being a bicultural Latina raising biracial kids while living 300 miles from our nearest Spanish-speaking family means that any opportunity to celebrate our Latino roots is one I cannot pass up. My 3 year old daughter is becoming increasingly aware of holidays and traditions, so I felt it was imperative to celebrate Día de los Muertos.
Before adorning her beautiful face with calaca face paint, Alina and I spent some time talking about the holiday and traditions associated with Day of the Dead. The opportunity to use the words Latino and Mexican and speak in Spanish within a very specific context was beneficial to our bilingual endeavors. Toddlers absorb so much more when they have an actual context in which to learn.
Alina was not a bit scared of the imagery of Día de los Muertos. She was intrigued and asked many questions, wondering why the calavera looked so silly. She adored the plethora of flowers we made specifically for her hair, hanging the papel picado and having her photo taken. So far, our celebrations have been well received by our magical toddler and I know the holiday will remain part of our traditions for years to come. Our Día de los Muertos celebration will continue into the weekend by attending themed events throughout our hometown of Las Vegas.
But, apart from the colorful décor, ofrendas and altars, I most appreciate the opportunity to honor the life of my grandfather, Papi. The promise I made to him to raise bilingual children is the reason why I embark on this journey of language immersion. He would have loved looking at these pictures of his little calavera. And I love that Alina speaks his name and recalls stories of her great grandfather as though she actually knew him. Celebrating Dia de los Muertos gave us the opportunity to pass down the legacy of a man so important to the lives we live today, and for that, I am grateful.