Throughout my childhood, my parents always made holidays special. We swathed our house in decorations, gathered at the table for incredible dinners, and were blessed with the ability to exchange gifts and coordinate time together. We play board games on New Year's Eve, buy chocolates and go out to lunch for Valentine's Day, and have a special party on birthdays. Whatever the occasion, we have our own routine and celebration. The holidays changed a bit over the years as my brother and I got older, but we've come to realize that people of all ages can still partake in them.
A great example of this is Halloween. While the kid in me will always long to trick-or-treat on Halloween night, our new tradition is to dress up and go bowling. If our schedules don't allow us to do that, sometimes my brother and I dress up and go for a walk, as was the case this past Halloween. We made the most of the evening by taking our dog, Riggs, out to walk around with the trick-or-treaters.
Riggs was unfazed by the masks and cloaks, the giggling children, and the constant stream of passersby. The temperature was perfect- cool but not cold, with a clear night sky and a quarter moon. My brother and I couldn't partake in the main event of the evening, but seeing all the superheroes, princesses, and monsters swarming the streets was its own kind of fun. Many of the children gleefully exclaimed, "Puppy!" as they passed us, waving tiny hands at our glow-stick adorned pup. Just by being there, Riggs was making children happy! At one point, a little Wonder Woman darted across the street and hurried towards us. "Ask first!" Wonder Woman's father reminded her. "Can I pet your dog?" she asked. We told her that she could. She ruffled Riggs's fur and introduced us to her friend, Spider-Man, before continuing on her candy hunt.
A special bonus that evening was actually getting to trick-or-treat a little here and there. The first time a woman called over to us, "If you're in costume, you get candy," I declared that I was going to cry. I was touched to be offered a bit of childlike fun. Holidays are so dear to me- to many of us- because they offer a break from everyday life. They bring us together at the dinner table, offer the excitement and fun of gift exchanges, and create special space for religious and spiritual observations. What was so meaningful to my brother and me wasn't the candy we were offered, but the invitation it represented. If you're in costume, you get candy. You are here- celebrate, rejoice, have fun! It is so crucial for us to have fun. Adulthood brings with it heavy burdens, making it more important than ever to embrace the joy we felt as children on Halloween night, on Easter egg hunts and at birthday parties, at bedtime on Christmas Eve and waking up Christmas morning. The holiday spirit is a precious reminder of the power of love, joy, and kindness. We are not children anymore, but the world would be a better place if we kept our childhood hearts.
Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.