I have an up-and-down relationship with holidays and the celebrating of achievements, milestones, and special life moments. One of my recurring New Year’s Resolutions is to celebrate holidays and events in fun and meaningful ways.
This is something that’s important to me – celebrating. However, as is often the case with recurring resolutions – I’m not great at actually doing it.
I love celebrating – but I’m not a planner. I think that’s a big factor that gets in the way of my celebrating holidays and events in meaningful ways. My preferred way of life is being spontaneous, going with the flow, letting things happen naturally, and that doesn’t really work with being intentional and celebratory. I can’t have a birthday party with family and friends if I never invite them over. And – true story – I can’t dress Teddy in an adorable shamrock shirt on his first St. Patrick’s Day if I don’t think of it until halfway through the day on March 17th.
For the first year of Teddy’s life, I felt a little pressure leading up to each holiday. Celebrating holidays felt important – like something I want to do for my children, so they’ll have great memories of childhood celebrations. But I don’t always know how I want to celebrate. And then Tee and I have to line up our visions of how we want to celebrate, and have extensive discussions of what traditions we want to keep, to discard, to cultivate. In some ways, that part was easier before becoming parents; before Teddy, it was easier to just kind of blend our inherited family traditions together, without really having to make choices. Once kids are involved, everything gets more meaningful, more special, and also more complicated.
Funnily, the holiday that has stressed me out the most since adding Teddy to our family is Easter.
This is funny because, really? Neither Tee nor I care very much about Easter as a holiday. We both grew up religious, but don’t practice those family religions as adults. So our inherited family traditions don’t make sense. I remember dressing up in pretty dresses to go to church; but you don’t need fancy Easter clothes if your plans are just to eat chocolate and dye Easter eggs. Originally, I decided that we would just do nothing for Easter. It wouldn’t be one of our holidays. But then, one of my best friends, who is also not religious, mentioned something about getting ready for Easter with her kids.
I zoomed in on her; I’m pretty sure I was being weirdly intense. “What do you do for Easter if you’re not religious?” I asked her.
“It’s pretty much just Secular Chocolate Basket Of Candy Day at our house,” she explained.
This was game-changing for me, but then it started to make me even more stressed out. If the holiday means nothing to me, then why are we even celebrating? I don’t love the idea of bringing a bunch of chocolate into our household; Tee and I will just end up eating it all and feeling gross. And I don’t want to buy a bunch of junky toys that Teddy doesn’t need, either. Also – this is a suppressed childhood memory that just re-emerged recently – dying Easter eggs is really, really boring.
A few things happened that helped me to feel better about our family plan for celebrating Easter:
-I remembered that Easter egg hunts are so, so fun, and are one of my favorite memories of my dad. I bought a few plastic Easter eggs for Teddy in early March, and we started ‘playing’ Easter egg hunt in the weeks leading up to Easter. He loved it and so did I.
-Tee had a great idea for a tradition, one we started last year – a bunny cake! Using edible spring flowers for decoration. SO CUTE.
-I realized that Easter can kind of be our flexible holiday – our plans can be more spontaneous and changeable. I have strong feelings about ways that I like to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, but for Easter, things can be a little more go-with-the-flow. (Especially given the weather variable! It snowed on the night of Easter this year. SNOWED.)
-This is the big one. Tee suggested I start thinking of Easter less as its own holiday and more as the beginning of spring, which it usually is. I love this. When I think of Easter, I think of rebirth, rejuvenation – life – family – and the joy that comes at the end of a long, cold country winter. And the hope and excitement about a beautiful spring and summer to come.
So, I’ve made my peace with Easter, for now. On a related note, we had a Wild Peace Farm party for Earth Day this weekend, and I think I’ve decided that Earth Day will be my new favorite holiday. There are pretty much no expectations for Earth Day, since it’s not a very religious holiday or a holiday I celebrated growing up. It’s sweet, simple, and low stress – which is EXACTLY my kind of holiday.