Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Bunny versus The Cross

I think that it is so uncalled for that we have all bought into this whole "blowing up a holiday into extraordinary and difficult-to-fulfill measures" thing.

You know what I mean.

Halloween: purchase an expensive and cheaply-made costume for every one of your kids (my eight children have learned to make their own and help the little ones make theirs, too. I'm not buying into it). Purchase eight million tons of candy to hand out to all the little munchkins dressed up in their expensive and cheaply made (or possibly home-made costumes, it is becoming the trend, after all) costumes when they ring your doorbell and holler, "Trick or Treat!", only the nicest way to say, "Can I please have some candy?". After running around from house to house in the closest, most well-to-do lots-of-candy-giving-out neighborhoods in your area (of course, you drive your kids there) with all the other little hooligans in the town to solicit candy, you haul your children home with their loot. (I must admit, I do like all the scary music, decor and real-life scary set-ups and watching the children have fun.) You get home and dig through the candy - and deal with off-the-wall candy-high children for weeks straight.

Thanksgiving: Eat til you're stuffed. Then eat dessert. Then watch the game and take a nap. Then, eat some more.

Christmas: How many presents did you get? Did Santa bring what you asked for? Decorating the Christmas tree, sending out Christmas cards, letters to Santa, Christmas wish lists, crowded, crazy holiday shopping. Presents piled as high under the tree as our wallets could stand on Christmas morning. Of course, don't forget the Christmas baking, all the cookies, candies and cakes. Oh, and the decorating of the food, the house, the tree. Holiday light display contests - who can have the biggest and baddest light display with coordinated Christmas music? And, now, we're supposed to remember to come up with some mischievious thing that this little bad elf does for the children to discover every day. Then, kids now want expensive iPads and iPods and smartphones and Sony PS3's for Christmas! What ever happened to a few great toys under the tree?

Valentine's Day: Valentine's Day has turned into the "love" version of Halloween. Have you seen the loot that kids bring home from school on Valentine's Day?! When I was a kid, we exchanged little individualized Valentine's Day cards. Men would buy pretty flowers or a box of chocolates for their loves. But now, it's about the decorated desserts, wads and wads of candy, huge boxes of chocolates, not one, but two dozen roses. People decorate just as much as Christmas with hearts and cupids and red, red, red.

St. Patrick's Day It used to be that we just threw on a green shirt and said, "Happy St. Patrick's Day" to everyone we walked by. We also might sporadically fake an Irish accent to say, "The luck of the Irish!" while drinking a dark brew and enjoying the corned beef and cabbage and soda bread. We might even make it down to the local St. Patrick's Day parade, or if we live in Chicago, we may have been to the watch the Chicago River turn green, an annual tradition for St. Patrick's Day. Let's up the ante! Kids are now looking for the "lucky coin hunt". This is similar to the Easter Egg hunt, only the leprechaun hides lucky coins (I didn't even know the leprechaun made house visits!). They want lime sherbert floats, specially decorated St. Patrick's Day cupcakes, four leaf clover face paintings, and are we now exchanging St. Patty's Day cards, like Valentine's Day?

And, now...

Easter: The Easter Bunny! Easter Egg Hunts! More candy than any of the other holidays combined, stuffed into Easter Baskets. Chocolate bunnies, Cadbury Eggs, Easter cupcakes, Easter brunch, Easter parades, pretty Easter dresses! Dying eggs has become a competition of the utmost artistic skills, then don't forget to pin the pics on Pinterest, share them on Facebook and Tweet about them! Did you know that Easter is now #4 on the list for popular holidays to send cards? And, don't forget the ham dinner as we celebrate Spring...

Now, hold on just a moment! It's not about the bunny, my fellow parents!

Somehow, we've managed to completely obliterate the true meanings of these holidays. Go ahead and ask your child, "What do you think about when I say, 'Easter'?". What would their first response be? Would they mention the resurrection of Jesus? "How about 'Christmas'?". The birth of our Christ? Sadly, most kids won't. Not at first thought, anyways. You can't blame them for it.

Why do we continue to dig ourselves into this endless hole of holiday expectations? Some people have turned the holidays into unrealistic expectations for a mother like me, with eight children. Maybe it's fun for you, with your one or two children, to make the holidays a big whirlwind of candy and presents and decorations and activities. But when you raise that bar of expectations for your kids, my kids hear about it and then they expect me to jump through hoops to make each holiday as big and crazy as you've made it!

Stop! Stop! Stop!

Holidays are beyond "going overboard" now, and it's because of you! You parents who buy not only the candy and chocolate bunnies, but also the kites and the purses and the PRESENTS for Easter! You parents scrambling to come up with the bestest naughty things your elf can do every single night! You parents who hide the lucky coins on St. Patrick's Day! Just Stop!

You're making it hard for those of us who want to teach our children what the holidays are really about!

I don't mind doing the holiday traditions that I grew up with doing as a kid with my own children, I don't. As a matter of fact, I love to see their smiles and excitement. I don't even mind telling the little white lies that come along with holidays that have been told to children for decades (centuries?) to maintain the "magic" that each holiday brings. I do love to see the light displays at Christmasttime and hear the holiday music on every station on the radio. I love experiencing the haunted houses, stuffing myself with holiday dinners and desserts until I'm passing out, and the overall excitement that the children radiate.

What I don't like is being forced to make each holiday bigger and more spectacular than the last. Competing against the parents who feel like the "traditional" traditions are not enough anymore.

I don't like wondering what my children are expecting each holiday - we need to bring things back down to a "normal" level of expectations so we, as parents, know what we're supposed to be doing. There's nothing worse than my children coming home from school after a holiday and telling me that their classmate, Johnny, got a new PS3 and ten games and a tablet for Easter! (Why did the Easter Bunny only bring us candy and hide Easter eggs for us?)

Give me a break! And give other parents a break! Bring things back down to a dull roar, the "normal" traditions that we all grew up with.

I can handle that.

Then, let's make sure that our kids know the real reasons we are celebrating these holidays. Maybe you're not religious. Maybe you don't want to make the holidays about their true meaning. Okay, so then don't celebrate them. Just don't make it hard on those of us parents who want our children to understand the true meaning of holidays, and don't blow every single darn holiday up to be something they were never meant to be!

Happy Easter! (Remember, it's not all about the Bunny!)

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