Saturday, November 01, 2008

Day of the dead

Every year on Halloween, a posse of the coolest kids and their parents congregate at the house across the street from me. Everyone is in costume, kids and adults alike. Food, wine, stories, and excitement are shared until about 7:00, when we head out to hit the streets and beg for candy. The neighborhood is known (at least in these parts) as THE neighborhood for trick-or-treating, with intricately decorated houses and full-size candy bars. With bags full, we head back to the house to get drunk on sugar and/or wine, whichever is the more age-appropriate of the two activities. Then, with children running amok in the upstairs bedrooms, the adults settle into the living room to discuss important adult topics like politics and sex lives.

Last night's conversation revolved around three things:
  1. My ex-husband, who'd put in a disturbing appearance at the party.
  2. This book, which was displayed on the coffee table and earned "ooh"s and "ah"s from those flipping through its pages.
  3. The Day of the Dead shrine glowing in candlelight in the corner of the room.
The shrine was quite lovely, and the stories told of the honored dead were both beautiful and heartbreaking. We all left the party last night with an oath to create our own shrines.

And that is what I did today. I am blessed to have relatively few dead to honor, most of whom were lucky enough to have lived long happy lives. Of course, my dad is featured prominently, and his is the heartbreaking story in my shrine. A tormented soul, he burned furiously and quickly, much like the candle lighting his photo.

Oh, but he was a man of principle. And though he had only 47 years in which to do it, and didn't really intend to do it in the first place, he taught his lessons to all around him. You probably didn't get the chance to meet him, and that is truly unfortunate. Had you, these are some of the things you might have learned:
  • Take care of your friends, your family, and your own damn self.
  • Smoke as much weed as you want, but go easy on the booze.
  • Whatever it is, someone somewhere needs it more than you. Give it to them if you're able.
  • The best way to parent is to remember what it was like to be a child.
  • See the world, not Americanized cities in foreign countries.
  • Having a cold is no excuse to miss a day of work.
  • You know what's best for you.
  • Live modestly. Possessions are meaningless.
  • Always say you're sorry, especially to your children.
  • Treat the homeless and the jobless with respect. It's easier to find yourself in their place than you know.
  • There is no greater shame than walking around with a tourist map.
  • There's always a fence to fix and shit to shovel. Don't bitch, just fix it and shovel it.
  • Whatever you do, do it with good music in the background.
  • Love big and wide open. The heartache will be worth it.
  • Don't speak ill of the dead, even if they earned it.
  • Always forgive. Others' mistakes are no worse than your own.
  • When it's time to laugh, laugh until your cheeks hurt. When it's time to cry, don't worry about who might see. When it's time to be angry, swear loudly and throw things.
  • The great things you do are no greater than the great things other people do.
  • Don't give advice. Be quiet and listen.
  • There is no shame in falling down, so long as you pull yourself back up.
  • If there are chopsticks on the table, use them.
  • Mind your manners.
  • Fuck the Yankees.
I hope you read all the way to the end. That last one is really important.

1 comment:

Giyen said...

w00t! Made it through day one of NaBloPoMo! Found you through the Twitter group.

GO OBAMA!

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