My kids celebrate Dia de los Muertos at school, and we’ve come to really appreciate taking a day to remember loved ones who have passed. Plus, I am a sucker for Mexican folk art, and my kids must share an affinity because we’ve printed out reams of these Dia de los Muertos coloring pages.
The kids take a picture of the loved one they’d like to remember to school to place upon a little alter and – at least in my son’s kindergarten class – they get a chance to explain who this person was and why they are special. When my daughter was young, she’s take a picture of three of her great grandparents, and one of our dog Sadie, who died the day before my daughter’s fifth birthday (if you can ever avoid that timing, spend whatever it takes). She knew all three great grandparents and she loved Sadie the pug so much that she will still cry when we talk about her, four years later. But this is the first year my son is participating and he met one of his great grandparents as a baby, but his connection is not that deep. Unfortunately he also lost a far away grandmother in the past few years, and I asked if he’d like to take a picture of Nana Elaine with him to school. He agreed, but seemed a little confused. I reminded him that this was daddy’s mom who died almost two years ago. He nodded deeply, as though he understood, but then asked some random question that showed he had no idea what I was talking about. I repeated it again, and hopefully it stuck, which is one of the great reasons for this day. She died before he could hold onto any memory of her, but celebrating dead loved ones is a little like a personal history lesson. It’s a holiday for remembering.