Day of the Dead–Time to Teach My Kids About Their Mormon Heritage

First off, let me apologize for being a slacker on updating the blog lately.  I’ve found that I go through waves of interest and disinterest in Mormon-related matters, and it just so happens that the past couple months have fallen into the disinterested category.  For anyone out there reading who is just starting a faith transition, I am here to tell you that, yes, the obsession with all things Mormon/Ex-Mormon/religion in general fades.

But alas, with holidays on the horizon, I am making a conscious effort to plan how I want to approach religious related topics this year, especially with the kids.  So I’m starting off the holiday season in a non-traditional way, but using it as an excuse to bring the kids up to speed on religion before well-meaning grandparents and relatives start filling the kids’ heads with churchy stuff this Christmas.  So This weekend, we celebrate the Day of the Dead!

My kids have had some previous exposure to Day of the Dead celebrations in a homeschool co-op that we are a part of and they’ve seen the movie “The Book of Life” and enjoyed that, so they already have a small background knowledge of the Mexican holiday.  But what I want to emphasize with them this weekend is the ancestor part of the celebrations.  I doubt my kids even know what the word ancestor means at this point, so we’ll start very basic this year.  We have a lot of pioneer ancestors, so I’m thinking about telling them about some awesome things I know about my grandparents (like how my grandmother was the hardest working woman I’ve ever met and so selfless and kind) and about my great-grandparents (like how my great-grandmother loved to travel and show them the lovely silver pin I have of hers that she got while visiting Texas), and about my great-great-grandparents (how my great-great grandmother made the trek from Missouri to Utah sitting on top of one of the stoves that her father was bringing to Utah).  I plan to then talk a little bit about why they traveled the Utah and tell them that Mormonism is a tradition that many of our ancestors passed on to their children and all the way down to us (along with good work ethics, cooking and baking skills, and an appreciation for education).  Then comes the tricky part–explaining that traditions are a great way to feel connected to our ancestors and that we might not necessarily believe the same things that our ancestors did, but that we can keep their traditions in our hearts and show respect and love for them and how their choices have effected our lives.  Well, it sounds tricky to me, but I doubt my young kids will think anything of it at all.  I also think to add some fun to the conversation I’ll print out some blank skulls and let them decorate them as one of the ancestors I tell them about.  (Maybe draw peony flowers around the eye sockets for my grandma who had the prettiest peony bushes in her yard, or drawing a funny mustache for my great-grandpa.)  And then I think we’ll paint their faces Day of the Dead style and re-watch “The Book of Life” for fun.

**Also, as I write this, I’m realizing that I have never heard stories about any non-Mormon ancestors that I have.  And now I’m curious to learn about them and the interesting things they did.

Looking ahead…Before Thanksgiving I’m going to teach my kids about prayers (and be respectful during them) in anticipation of the “special” prayer that will be said at grandma and grandpa’s house at our Thanksgiving dinner.

As far as Christmas goes, I’ll write another post on that one later.