Feliz el Dia de los Muertos

Tonight is Halloween. While my family celebrates like most families, costumes and candy, there is a whole lot of history within this day as well as the next two days. Halloween is believed to be a night when the deceased cross over to our world and come back to visit their loved ones. While some cherish this moment and celebrate with food and festivities, some try to scare the spirits away.
Most people know about the scaring part. We carve pumpkins and set them outside our houses to ward off the spirits, thinking most of them are evil. We also dress up in costume as a way to mask ourselves so that the spirits cannot find us. But in some cultures, today is celebrated. Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to spend time with our lost loved ones? While today is the day the spirits come back, the next two days are the days to celebrate. Instead of mourning the death of a loved one, you can celebrate their life during two days known as the Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos. In the Yucatan, there is similar celebration called Hanal Pixan which translates to “the path to the soul through the essence of food.” What better way to celebrate? With food and loved ones. Some go to grave sites and commune with their loved ones, while others have great feasts in celebration of the lives of their loved ones.

As a person who is not very religious but rather embraces many different beliefs and cultures, I decided to celebrate the Day of the Dead in my own way. I am not making altars, visiting grave sites or making extravagant feasts, but I am going to share with you two people who had a tremendous impact on my life. It just so happens that these two people are not only going to be remembered for being my family, but for inspiring me and helping form me into me, Creative Chrissy.

 

The first person I am celebrating is Julius Caesar Tait, known to everyone as J.C. He was born in San Diego, Ca, July 5, 1936 and died April 28, 2008.

J.C. was not a blood relative, but was a part of my family ever since my mom was a young girl. I grew up knowing him as a “grandpa.” He was always with the family. Whenever we celebrated birthdays, holidays, or just had family over to hang out, he was always there. He was a jokester. One time he drank a beer, refilled it with water, put the cap back on and put it back in the fridge. A few days later my dad freaked out because he thought the beer company had made a mistake. It wasn’t until weeks (maybe even months later) J.C. told everyone about it. He was one of the most lively people I knew. He always smiled and was the life of the party.

J.C. was an amazing artist. But he only painted for himself. It was something he enjoyed immensely but he never sold any paintings or painted for anyone…except this one.

This is Berbage. He was my mom’s goldfish. J.C. painted this for my mom when she was younger and she still has it hanging in her room. It’s a one of a kind piece of art painted by a one of a kind man.

Besides painting, J.C. loved sports and fishing. He used to fish with my dad before I was born, and luckily I LOVE to fish so the tradition was passed down. All my most favorite fishing memories were spent with J.C. He taught me loads about fishing. He taught me how to tie a fisherman’s knot.  Now, how does that connect with craftiness? Let me tell you. I made something yesterday that involved fishing line and how do you think I finished the edge so the line wouldn’t come undone? A fisherman’s knot. 🙂 The one thing I will never forgot that he taught me about fishing, is how to make the night crawlers (earthworms) float. He always kept a syringe in his tackle box and would stick it in the worm and inflate the worm with air. Sounds horrible, but it always worked! He also taught me that you don’t always need the whole worm on the hook. But don’t worry about finding the scissors or pliers, just pinch it with your fingernails.

This is me, my dad, and J.C. fishing in Mammoth, Ca 2000-01 time frame.  I remember this like it was yesterday. Our limit of fish was 5 each. I caught my limit before my dad and J.C. caught just one.

J.C.’s Obituary

 

The other person I am celebrating is the woman that started the long line of creative ladies in my family. My great grandmother.

Reta Brown was born June 30, 1913 and died September 2008.

Pictured here with my great grandfather, Garold.

I was one of the luckiest young girls. While I was growing up, I was surrounded by my entire family. And I was fortunate enough to have my great grandparents still living. When I wasn’t at home with my parents or my grandma, I was spending time with my great grandparents. I would go to their mobile home park to swim, play pool in the pool hall, garden, pretend, and eat saltine crackers with peanut butter. Now that I am writing all of that, I no longer wonder where I get my green thumb. 🙂

Here I am playing in the orange tree in my great grandparents backyard.

My great grandma, like I said, was the ultimate crafter. She made everything. And I mean EV-ER-Y-THING!!! She made my Halloween costumes, she made quits, she made rugs…she even had a giant weaving loom in her craft room. She did it all. I truly believe that she is the reason I am as crafty as I am today. She passed a little bit of herself down to my grandma, who dabbles in a bit of everything herself, and a little down to my mom, who is just as crafty as me, and then down to me. I can only hope that my daughter gets a bit of the same crafty bug. She is already so creative and loves to do art projects… so far so good.

This is a quilt that I was able to keep after Reta passed away.

This sits on a table in my grandma’s room today. It’s a pot made from weaving pine needles together. Did I mention that Reta did EVERYTHING?

And last, a one of a kind photo. 5 generations. Taken in August 2008, pictured left to bottom right, My Mom, Reta, Grandma, Me, my Daughter. 5 generations of amazing ladies who made and are going to make a huge impact on the crafting world.

 

Happy Halloween and Happy Day of the Dead.

 

 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Dia de los Muertos | The Life of a Chrissy

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