My babies were both born pre-Pinterest. But even without its unspoken pressure, I still managed to create a list of over-the-top traditions. Many families have sweet rituals. A glitter-dusted note from the Tooth Fairy. Maybe the Elf on the Shelf. Oh, we have those. But I have a gazillion others, too.
It feels like I have turned every day into a holiday – with no option to extricate myself from any of them. My kids would be heartbroken if we stopped. Trust me, I’ve tried. It didn’t end well.
The year begins simply. On Valentine’s Day we eat pink heart-shaped waffles for breakfast. The kids head off to school with decorated boxes and a bag of cards to exchange with classmates. The End.
I totally have this under control. No fake “holiday-ing” for me!
Then March 2nd arrives. That’s a holiday? you ask. It’s Dr. Seuss’ birthday! What started as a simple endorsement for literacy has turned into an extravaganza at our house. It begins with every Dr. Seuss book in the house on display with a stuffed Cat in the Hat plunked down in the middle. Breakfast is green scrambled eggs with ham. Thank goodness our daughter outgrew her egg allergy. The first few years were celebrated with tofu dyed green to replicate scrambled eggs – that was a bit hard to swallow. The day ends with Cat in the Hat pizza and a dessert made of Oreos and marshmallows that resemble the Cat’s hat.
But wait, March isn’t over. Did you know the Leprechaun sneaks into our house in the wee hours of March 17th? Yes, he turns our milk green. Are you sensing a food coloring theme at our house? He also leaves a box of Lucky Charms on the kitchen table.
May 1st brings May Day! When they were tiny, it was so cute pulling them in the wagon from house to house with little baskets of flowers. Baskets that they’d decorated over the course of several days.
This year, May Day fell on a Monday. We’d had a busy weekend and it had simply fallen off my radar. I secretly hoped they wouldn’t notice.
But when I picked them up after school, May Day was back. I cursed those darn teachers for reminding my kids. I explained that it was too late. Our afternoon was full. They would have none of it. And so we headed to Target for supplies and my son put together bags of treats for our neighbors (in the backseat of the car) while my daughter was at dance. And because it was pouring buckets, I drove them around the cul-de-sac at nearly 7:00 p.m. delivering May Day “baskets.” There were tears and no holiday joy.
Summer brings a lull to the madness. I have yet to create any special holiday rituals for Memorial Day. And so during the months when life is a little slower and laid back, I am, too! No fake holidays make for a happier mom!
The new school year equals more chaos. With less than a month of school under our belts, October 1st arrives. Which means the return of the Great Pumpkin, my most egregious creation. All of my other fake holiday traditions are at least done in a day. But no, the Great Pumpkin visits our house for THIRTY-ONE DAYS!
It begins when the Great Pumpkin leaves us a box of Count Chocula cereal. And every day for the ENTIRE month, “he” brings small Halloween gifts for my children. I blame Pottery Barn. If they had not put that felt calendar (with pockets for every day in October) on ridiculous markdown, the Great Pumpkin never would have shown up in our house.
I have great childhood memories of family traditions. Simple ones, like pink pancakes on Valentine’s Day (the food coloring thing may be hereditary). But in my attempt to make magical memories on these fake holidays, I have created monster-sized expectations.
So new mamas, heed my warning. If you put pressure on yourself to go overboard, you will begin to dread the special days. Your children don’t need every “holiday” to be over the top. The magic is not in the excess.