Halloween has never been my holiday.
It might have had something to do with my mother’s dislike of what she considered a religious — and not one of ours — observance, her reluctance to take me on the rounds of my Brooklyn apartment building (which wasn’t especially kid-friendly anyway). It might have had to do with the fact that I was a chubette when I was growing up and didn’t look good in a tutu. Not unrelated: My mother always discouraged me from eating whatever candy I accumulated because, as I’ve mentioned, I was a chubette.
In recent and somewhat svelter years, I’ve still had no interest in coming up with a costume; I have enough trouble pretending to be a grown-up on the rare occasion when I’m required to look “professional.” The only Halloween party I recall with fondness — or recall at all for that matter — was the one, post-divorce, when I wore the floor-length, fancy dress I’d gotten married in. I strapped a pillow around my waist and went as a pregnant bride.
But if I’ve never been crazy about Halloween, when I moved to the Southwest I found a (semi-) related holiday that really speaks to me: Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. It involves Mexican folk art, sugary snacks, and the notion that our departed loved ones can return home for a day to enjoy their favorite foods with us. What’s not to like?
Of course, the breaking of bread with the dead is the way to bring them back into our lives for a time, the better to remember why we mourn them. And in my dog-obsessed circles, we recognize that mourning pets is as important — perhaps more important, because it’s generally less societally acceptable — as mourning humans.
You probably wouldn’t want to put food on the floorcloth pictured above, but I imagine a picnic cloth on which you might lay down a feast that your dog would have loved — cheeseburgers, say, and buffalo wings — but was never allowed to eat in life because of the high fat content and the fear of splintering bones.
And those who live in the Tucson area should consider going over to the Global Arts Gallery in nearby Patagonia (no, not the one in South America) on Sunday, November 1 (noon to 5), where there will be an offrenda (altar) upon which to place photographs and other remembrances of pets past. There will also be a show/sale of the collages, paintings, and prints of Donna Reibslager. And food.
Even if you can’t go this Sunday, be sure to stop by another time for the wonderful folk art, jewelry, and clothing from all over the world. I would say this even if the owner, Adrienne Halpert, weren’t my friend and wasn’t going to host a signing for Am I Boring My Dog in her gallery on November 27. My first love was for the store, and I only got to know Adrienne and her pups, Paco and Goomba because I went back so often.