Celebrating each other makes us different than other creatures

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readNov 7, 2022
Pan de muerto, salt, marigolds, and other traditional items are left on altars (ofrendas) to commemorate Day of the Dead.

While building an altar (an ofrenda) for Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) it struck me that humans celebrate other humans in peculiar ways.

Ofrendas are truly offerings. A way to give something to someone that you loved for a long time, and maybe a short time too. Among the flowers and the crosses, the candles, and the decorative skulls, are pictures, and mementos of life’s little things.

I didn’t grow up building altars, but when I pass them in store windows, or in neighbor’s living rooms, I always stop for a moment to take in what someone is trying to say about someone else. Someone else that isn’t here anymore and isn’t forgotten.

I don’t have kids and I’m not married. Maybe that will change one day, but for now, all I have at home is my cat Nadya. A cat and everything that belongs to her. That’s what I have. Furry tows and catnip. Balls that make ringing noises. A fresh water device that is always flowing. A tower that gives her ability to look down on me and everything else.

The day my grey-haired buddy leaves me she will leave everything else too. None of her cat friends (if she has any) will celebrate her. They won’t make her a memorial or put up her picture. They’ll just find a way to move on to the next day without her.

We two-legged kind are different. Holding on to the past and holding on tight is really important. We do it with loved ones, with pop culture, with traditions, with learning. Nadya doesn’t do that. She remembers just enough to survive. She knows who feeds her and what door leads to the outside. Most of the time, she knows where the kitty litter box is located.

Beyond that, she lives for the day. Almost all of creation does. There isn’t much planning for the future. No debating next moves or planning for disasters. No stressing about the little things.

I want to be like Nadya, and maybe I can if I think about what is most important in my life. What has been written for thousands of years and I’ve read time and time again. That people behave and think differently than the rest of creation because we were created…

Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting things. I write about them and what makes them interesting.