As deep as the pride, love, and loyalty run in my family for America, we also love Canada. My Irish ancestors found their way to America first through Canada and my husband’s family has owned a cottage on a lake in Canada for nearly 100 years.

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Canada is close enough that we can be at our cottage in three hours or in Ottawa in just four and so it’s not uncommon for us to head there when we need a break from our daily lives. Every vacation our son has ever known has been to Canada and so it has become a very special place for him. So special that John calls it, “My Canada.” We fly both the American and Canadian flags at our home and every once in awhile, Canadian themed gifts are sent to our boy by friends and family.

My husband, son, and I all have birthdays within a week of each other and we decided this year to take a long weekend trip to Ottawa to celebrate our birthdays. After telling friends about our plans, one of them decided to surprise our son with his very own Royal Canadian Mounted Police costume. At that moment, we knew what we would do. We would dress up our son and take him to Parliament in costume for photos to put in his memory box. What we didn’t know was what a big deal doing that would turn out to be.

Jay Long

The weekend that we went to Ottawa it was brutally cold and we didn’t think that we’d be able to visit Parliament for photos but then the day before we left, the weather took a turn and warmed up substantially. That day not only was the final day of Winterlude, but it was also Family Day and that meant thousands of people were walking the streets of Ottawa.

Traci Taylor

We bundled up our boy, put the costume on and headed out to take the four-block walk to Parliament. Before we were even out of the hotel doors, our son, completely unaware of how adorable he looked, had received high fives, smiles, and photo requests. By the time we reached Parliament, no less than three dozen people had pulled out their phones to snap photos of John while others stopped to laugh and chat with us, asking where they could buy a costume to match his. Bus drivers honked and waved, people grinned from ear to ear, and the police even pulled over to give their thumbs us. The whole time, John walked along, holding the reins of his horse and whistling, completely and totally oblivious to the joy that he was bringing to others which made me enjoy the moment even more.

At Parliament, our little Mountie took off on his horse for a romp around the grounds, but not before standing in the walkway and pretending, completely of his own idea, to direct pedestrian traffic.

Traci Taylor

What started as an idea to take some fun photos for our son to look back on when he’s a man turned into something totally different. It turned into something that brought strangers together. Something that caused laughter and genuine happiness.

The next time that the kid in your life wants to wear a costume to the grocery store, for a walk around town, or even on vacation, I think you should let them. There’s something about a kid in costume outside of Halloween that makes people super happy. And isn’t happy what the world needs more of?

By the way, if you’d like to buy a kid’s Canadian Mountie Costume, this is the one our son has: