Max and I went to see “Coco” the Disney animation. Set in Mexico during the Day of the Dead, it tells the story of Miguel, a boy who dreams of playing guitar and singing. In a town that celebrates music, his family tries to block Miguel’s dreams but he doesn’t give up.
“Wonderful movie!” I said as we maneuvered our way down the crowded aisle. “Colorful, good message, witty!”
“An idealistic vision of the afterlife,” Max said.
“Mexico has a knack for laughing at death.”
“Mexico has a knack for laughing at death.”
Max and I left the theater with big smiles, images of katrinas and shrines with shimmering candles, photos of ancestors, flowers, spirits and food offerings floating in our heads.
On our way to the Italian restaurant, we noticed small children in costumes. Tiny devils, katrinas, ghosts, pumpkins, draculas, fairy princesses, grim reapers, and witches held on to a parent with one hand and a plastic pumpkin container filled with candy in the other.
I swiveled my head looking in all directions. “Are we on the set of “Coco?”
“Must be trick or treat at the mall,” Max said. He looked over his shoulder. “Where can I a get a plastic pumpkin? I feel a sweet tooth coming on.”
“Tsk, tsk,” I said. “No candy before dinner!” I pulled him along. “And no candy after dinner, either. You don’t want a pumpkin costume to be the only one that fits. Remember: tummy, tummy!”
“Don’t ‘tummy, tummy” me, Sylvia. I’m not in the mood. I just had a good time at the movie and I’m feeling festive.”
“Feel festive over a salad.”
“You’ll thank me ………..”
“I know, I know. I’ll thank you later.”
At the restaurant, we were seated at a table by the window and handed menus by the hostess.
We studied the offerings and decided on minestrone, a large salad with chicken, tomatoes and a sprinkling of nuts.
“Any more festive and I’ll start dancing a jig,” Max said, closing his menu.
The waiter, a young man with shiny black hair and a warm smile, came over to take our order.
“Buenas noches. Bienvenidos,” he said. “My name is Luis.”
“Many children at the mall tonight,” I said, pointing out the window. “Trick or treating?”
“Yes, it’s become a tradition in recent years. The Day of the Dead and Halloween blending together.”
“Is that a good thing?”
His brow furrowed. “Some of the older folks think not. Halloween was imported from the United States and, to many, seems too commercial. They don’t want children to forget the traditions of November 1, All Hallows Day, and November 2, the Day of the Dead, the time to honor ancestors.”
Looking up at him, I said, “What do you think?”
He smiled. “I have two young children and they love Halloween. It’s lighter than Day of the Dead.” He shrugged. “Maybe we can live with both.”
We ordered our salads Luis scribbling on his pad. “I’ll be right back with your wine.”
After he left, I looked at Max and said, “Lupe, our house helper, asked for the day off on November 2.”
“Oh?” Max said. He had pulled his straw from its paper wrapper and plunged it into the glass of water in front of him. He was now busy folding the wrapper into an origami snake.
“Lupe says she and her family will visit the cemetery where her ancestors are buried. They’ll take a picnic, a bottle of tequila, candles, sugar skulls, marigolds. Maybe even commune with the dead.”
“Sounds interesting,” he said. He had now taken the wrapper from my straw and was folding it into a butterfly.
I patted his hand. “Are you listening?” I asked.
He put the origami down and looked at me. “All this talk of spirits and cemeteries and communicating with the dead makes me nervous.”
I sat back. “Why?”
His eyes bored into mine. “You know why! ‘Your GIFT!’ ”
I realized what he was talking about and guffawed. I made a dismissive gesture with my hand. “Oh, that! I haven’t thought about that in a long time.”
Max was referring to a special talent I have. I don’t talk about it and haven’t used it in years. I’ve suppressed it and that’s worked. Someday I may be forced to use it again. Right now I’m very happy living in Mexico and painting.
I don’t want to talk about it!
WHEW! Max almost gave away my BIG secret. — Dear Readers — Hope you are enjoying Sylvia’s Journal. If so, please pass on the news of a new journal entry every Wednesday with original art or photo to friends, family and casual passers-by! You may make them smile for a minute in a world that can be as grim as The Reaper. Put a little fun in your life! Try Sylvia!