Family Altar

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Altar  of candles, statues & photographs
Altar of candles, statues & photographs

My grandma came over to the United States from Guatemala via Canada. Her sister and mother was already in the US. She brought over my mom and uncle when they were just kids. Our family was always spiritual, and like most Latin American families, raised Catholic.

There has always been an altar in our home. When my abuelita, great grandma, was alive, it was kept in her room and she maintained it on this very dresser (but in another home). After she passed, and later on after we moved, my grandmother, Chayto, was the one who took care of it. She would pray to it every night. On the altar, though not seen in the photo, is a tiny baby wooden Jesus that's over 100 years old, hand carved that abuelita brought from Guatemala. The baby Jesus is what we'd always put under the Christmas tree for the holidays. I'm not too much of a religious person, but after Chayto passed, I vowed to keep the tradition of the altar going. Sometimes using real candles, and sometimes using electronic ones to assuage my mom's fears of burning anything down. There are photos and offerings from events we witnessed, and including a recent family photo with my late brother so I could continue honoring him too. An altar can be  whatever one makes of it, and while it's still in the style of my grandmother, I hope as the years go by it becomes more me.

Place(s): San Francisco

– Carmen M.

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant