Last St. Patrick’s Day, I picked up Sarah from her little pre-K program and in the car, she told me with great excitement, “Mom, we have to get home right away! I have to check and see if the leprechaun left me in any gold coins in my underwear drawer!!!” What the what?!?! I had done absolutely nothing to prepare for the holiday, much less strew coins (gold or otherwise) in with her panties. In a panic, I combed my brain for any Irish folklore that would lead my daughter to believe that wee little bearded men would be messing around with her undergarments. Did I miss the memo? Does everyone do this? Was this a white people thing? Help!
This St. Patrick’s Day, I was again caught unprepared. Sarah called me from her outing with Chris to ask if any leprechauns had made mischief in the house. So frantically, I overturned some salt and pepper shakers, tore up some paper, scribbled on our kitchen table with crayons, and ran to the store for some gold chocolate coins. Sarah was thrilled, ensuring that I was still in play for Mother of the Year…at least for one more day.
So we come to yet another servant mommy duty: holiday preparations. When I was a kid (feel free to use your Andy Rooney voice when reading the rest of this paragraph), we didn’t celebrate every single holiday like it was Christmas Lite. Sure we wore green on St. Patty’s day but that’s it- no more, no less. Valentine’s Day meant passing out and receiving small tear out cards from the grocery store, making sure you didn’t accidentally give the “BE MINE FOREVER” card to the boy who dined on his boogers for lunch. Easter: egg hunt and maybe a chocolate bunny. We didn’t stretch out the whole holiday into a week (or more) of celebrations or an occasion to receive presents from the Easter Bunny, the Great Pumpkin, or whoever else the Big Three (Hallmark, Target, and Wal-Mart) invented to sell more cards and more merchandise to a bunch of unsuspecting parents.
Maybe it was because my parents were immigrants and frankly, could always play that card when I mentioned something my friends had done to celebrate a certain holiday. “So and so did what? Those crazy Americans…go study!” Their attitude must have stuck with me because later in life, I too became blasé about most holidays. To me, they were just an excuse to have a long weekend, stuff my gullet with almost obscene amounts of food/candy/alcohol, and sleep in.
Oh, but with children. With each passing year as a stay at home mom, I have become increasingly entangled in marking each holiday with elaborate mini-celebrations, mostly because Sarah comes home eyes blazing with another tidbit of information about how her other friends plan to commemorate Earth Day 2012. How can I say no? I mean, I don’t want her to feel left out (like her poor immigrant mother) but at the same time, I don’t want to Martha Stewart the be-jesus out of every Groundhog’s Day, Arbor Day, and Columbus Day either. Because these kids talk…they dissect every minute detail as if they were conspiracy theorists analyzing the Kennedy assassination and woe to the child (and parent) who didn’t get the same as everyone else.
What would be really helpful is some sort of Mother’s Holiday Celebration Accord. Similar to the UN, let’s convene delegates from all over the country and outline some standard holiday procedures, allowing for some regional variations. We can hammer out such pressing issues as, does Santa wrap his gifts or not? And how many gifts does he bring? Also, can we as a nation of mothers, agree that the Easter Bunny only brings items that fit IN the actual Easter basket? Also, do pets get gifts from these characters or not? Or maybe we could partner with the National Education Association so that teachers will inform us moms in a timely fashion of the chatter that is circulating around the school, however bizarre (e.g. leprechauns leaving gold coins in underwear drawers) so that mothers across the country can be prepared.
Now if you will excuse me, I need to draft a blueprint for our Easter baskets so that neither girl gets slighted by the other girl’s basket and accuses the Easter Bunny of favoritism. Happy Spring everyone!