By Taylor Trudon, The New York Times, May 3, 2021
Growing up, Carley Ebbenga was used to not having big birthday parties. Since her birthday falls right in the middle of winter break, most kids were out of town so she stuck to small celebrations. But for her Sweet Sixteen, Ms. Ebbenga, who lives in Romeoville, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, wanted to do something special. She envisioned a trip into the city with a few friends where they would eat a nice dinner and stay up late dancing in their hotel rooms.
The pandemic, of course, foiled her plans.
Ms. Ebbenga made the best of things. She invited two of her closest friends to a bonfire in her backyard. They ate chili made by Ms. Ebbenga’s mother and danced around the fire while drinking hot cocoa. The small group also had a “burning ceremony” where they had notebooks and pens to write down “the deepest, most saddest things,” read them out loud and then burn the slips of paper in the fire. Ms. Ebbenga had gotten the idea from watching one of her favorite YouTubers, The Purple Palace, who had made a video burning things she wanted to let go of.