Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nos Ofrenda!

In the international adoption community there are quite a few contentious topics! While some of the heated chat room debates do produce an occasional argument that expands my knowledge and/or opinion most seem just too darn esoteric to be worth the depth of emotion many invest. One of the most passionate debates concerns just how much of the birth 'culture' adoptive parents are morally obligated to learn and then impart to their children. My adoption friends are now groaning!!!!!!!!!!!! No this is not another diatribe on the matter...I'm just setting the 'scene' for my friends and family who read this blog who are not up on the whole debate. Personally I find this debate to fall into the 'seeing the forest from the trees' category. You see, if I were to artificially don the mantle of a latina for the sole purpose of making my daughters latina is not only an inherently POOR way to accomplish the task BUT it devalues the OBVIOUS fact that my daughters are now AMERICAN. The purists want you to feel incredible guilt that they were snatched from their cultural birthright against their will and you as the snatchee OWE them the restoration of their culture. The opposite camp insist that the act of adoption is like a reset button and thus the child is now whatever the adopting family is. (OOOh so hard to end that sentence in a preposition but I'm too tired to self edit!) The Mahoney's fall somewhere between those two camps! I mean DUH!!!!!! How does an Irish farm boy and an American city girl not only merge those two cultures but add Guatemalan ladino while living in the Midwest????? So we take whatever works from whichever culture whenever we feel like it! (omg! another preposition at the end of a sentence...sorry Mrs. Edwards!) We call it BEING AMERICAN!!! So getting on to the real subject of this post...The conversations in this house surrounding the St. Dymphna bottle doll led to All Soul's and All Saint's Days questions from the younger crowd. This discussion natually flowed into how Halloween evolved which then flowed into how Dia de los Muertes evolved. I really only had a superficial knowledge on this topic so the next day we went to the library and checked out a book on The Day of the Dead. Boy was my knowledge VERY superficial!! Long story short....this celebration really brings ALL of our cultures together very nicely! Patrick had always had a leery avoidance of learning more about this because the skulls, calavara, and ofrendas seemed too pagan-like for him. I just lumped it in with Halloween. We were all so moved by what we learned about celebrating the lives of our deceased loved ones that we decided to make an ofrenda this year!! Julia was absolutely bubbling with excitement and ideas for the decoration while Mari really intuited the purpose and produced the mortuary cards for all of the people she could think of that have died in our family! Just as described in the book, this ofrenda is a work in progress. We chose a hall tree located just inside our front door as the setting and the girls collected a wonderful mix of Guatemalan and Irish items to kick off the decorating. We are planning a sugar skull making session on Sunday. I'll keep you posted on Nos Ofrenda...our altar to celebrate the memory of and lives of our dearly departed.


  1. Love your post and i did so poorly when it came to prepositions its all good to me, grammer is not my thing, neither is typing.

  2. this is a great idea. and I love your little altar with the guatemalan fabrics and Our lady of Guadalupe and the Sacred heart of Jesus, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. A nice tradition you've started. I've read alittle about the origins of Halloween -- it comes from Ireland, right?

  3. I love it!!! we are going to a day of the dead party on Sunday and im soooo excited!!!

    Im part Mexican and i really dont get into the Latino holidays but what the heck sounds like a GREAT reason to party!!!