Jeanne Sole: A Hispanic Halloween

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This Halloween, Jeanne Sole will go easy on the ghouls and gore and embrace a more Hispanic approach to the celebration.

I used to love Halloween because it was innocent, creative and simple. At most a week before, I’d buy some candy, scrounge around the closet for a costume, and viola! By 8 pm on the evening in question, the last kids knocked and received their candy, and we all moved on.

Consumerism has ruined Halloween, as it did Christmas, but this year I am fighting back. Instead of garish plastic horrors of half decayed hung men, I bought a funky-looking pumpkin at the farmers market. And I am embracing my Hispanic heritage, and creating a altar for my beloved, deceased dad.

Last night, my daughter and I hand-painted calaveritas, ‘skulls’ in English, and perhaps we will try to make traditional ones of sugar. We are decorating the house with colored paper cut-out banners and flowers of crinkly crepe. I will make my aunt’s Guatemalan delicacy, fiambre, a concoction of pickled vegetables, cheeses and sausages, naturally and brilliantly colored with beets,
decorated and seasoned with chilis.

The Hispanic approach to the Day of the Dead embodies more than a preference for bright colors over somber blacks and greys. It signals that death need not be depressing or macabre. It should be a welcome aspect of a well-lived life. In time, I hope to join my father and other departed loved ones on altars built by my decedents. When it is my turn, I hope to gracefully make way for the new vibrant generations as precious, marvelous and multi-faceted as ours.

Meanwhile, this Halloween, I will joyfully partake of bright colors, strong flavors and happy music, celebrating the majestic cycle of existence, and the transcendental role of family and enduring love.

With a Perspective, I’m Jeanne Sole.

Jeanne Sole buys electricity for the City of San Jose, and its residents and businesses. She lives in Belmont.