October 24

Dear Diary,
Today we start building our family altar for Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Mama is getting out pictures of Grandmother Rosa and Grandpapa Hector, who I don’t remember at all because he died before I was born, and other relatives. Papa is taking down last year’s altar from the attic above our apartment. We will dust it off and cover it with white cloth, then put our ofrendas—our offerings—of candles and flowers and food on it before the festival begins next week. My teacher is showing us how to make paper cempasúchitl (marigold flowers) at school, but I like the real ones best. By next week, every corner will have market stalls selling marigolds and candles and sugar skulls. Papa will start baking pan de muertos, the special bread shaped like a skull and crossbones.

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