celebrating our son’s heritage: day of the dead

While Halloween was a big tradition in our family prior to Sumner joining us, we decided to add the Day of the Dead to our traditions last year to help Sumner celebrate his heritage and ancestors.

We were still in the NICU for last year’s celebrations and we kept things pretty low-key. We watched Coco as a family, told Sumner his story, and shared sugar skulls and treats with the hospital staff.

This year, we built upon those traditions.

sugar skull cookies

I made sugar skull cookies from scratch and it was definitely a labor of love. The recipe I used was from Neda’s Nummees and the cookies turned out perfectly. I’ll actually use the same recipe for Christmas cookies later on this year. I used a set of day of the dead cookie cutters and stamps to get the cookies just right.

The next day I started the process of icing the cookies. All of the research I did made this process look much easier than it was. I don’t think chasing a toddler in between each cookie was factored into the time commitment.

Sumner wasn’t quite sure what to make of the cookies. However, he did let me help him take a taste which is a pretty big deal for him!

books and movies

Like last year, we decided to watch Coco as a family. However, Sumner was much less compliant this year which isn’t surprising considering how mobile he is. Plus, this is the second time that he’s watched anything… ever… as we’re a mostly screen-free family. We make small exceptions for special occasions. Sumner made it about 30 minutes before we decided to call it a day.

We added to our media collection this year with a new board book called The Day of the Dead by Bob Barner. I love that the book is bilingual and captures the ideas and importance of the holiday. We read it a couple of times in the days leading up to the holiday.

sharing his story

The impetus for us creating this family tradition is to celebrate Sumner’s heritage. We learned during our adoption training classes about the importance of sharing Sumner’s story with him early and often so that he would always know about his history. I’m not going into the details of his story since it is his story.

This year we focused on telling him a bit about his first family. While we don’t know much about them, we’re happy to share the things we do know. Every time we tell him his story we add a bit more of it. The plan is for him to know everything by the time he’s ten to twelve years old. It’s an ongoing process.

We also shared with him about a couple of people from our family who have passed. We talked to him about my Grandma and about Justin’s aunt. Both were strong women in our family. Next year we’ll add on to the tradition.

While 2020 hasn’t looked like how I thought it would, I’m glad that we’ve been able to start some of our family traditions and make things work for us.

Up next, decorating for Christmas!

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