I knew watching Coco would be a magical experience; not only because I watched the movie with my entire family in the theatre but also because I was seeing my culture represented (positively) in a major film. However, I was completely unprepared for the way the movie would impact my life for the entire year after watching it.
I have seen Coco more times than I can count, there was a solid month after the DVD release where my niece demanding that it be played on repeat for the entirety of the day. I dreamt of “Un Poco Loco” and “Remember Me” for months. Though the biggest impact it made may have been when it reminded me of my culture’s traditions, the altar on Dia de los Muertos to be exact.
An altar is created for Dia de los Muertos, which is celebrated on November 2. Dia de los Muertos is an opportunity to remember those you’ve lost, it is a celebration of their life and an altar is created to display their pictures and the things they enjoyed while on this side of life.
We have never had an altar at our house. My maternal Grandfather has been gone for a few years now and though I’ve brought up the idea of an altar a couple of times, my mother has found it difficult to follow through with the idea. She was a daddy’s girl through and through which has made it difficult for her to think of him for too long or to look at his pictures. Thankfully Coco helped her grieving process and for the first year we have made an altar at our home.
This Mexican tradition may be my favorite one. It’s a reminder of how important family is and it helps keep your legacy going. My mom has used this altar to teach my nephews and my niece about our family. She has told them how my Abuelo was a baker and how the smell of dough immediately reminds us of him. She told them about how my Tio Rigo drank a Diet Coke every single afternoon. She has been able to look at my Abuelo and remember the happy memories as opposed to the last days that continued to replay in her head these last couple of years.
I hope everyone involved with Coco realizes what an impactful movie they created. I am grateful for the representation that my nephews get to grow up with and I am grateful that my mom has found a way to celebrate my Abuelo in a beautiful way. Now I’ll excuse myself because I have to go watch Coco with my niece for the 865th time.
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