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If holiday ennui makes for a bad parent, then I’m downright terrible

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I am not religious. And I’m not really interested in celebrating the Hallmark holidays, either. Add to this an aversion to candy and an inherent laziness when it comes to decorating/cooking/shopping/costume-making, and you end up with a person who doesn’t appear to do very much in the way of “celebrating.”

This would be a non-issue, except that I have four small children. These four small children attend schools and daycares. And these schools and daycares are CONSTANTLY reminding said children that they need to wear green, or buy Valentine’s Day cards, or bring their Easter baskets with the plastic grass to school on Friday. But it’s okay! Holidays are OKAY. They just tend to make me look like an abhorrent parent when… I’m actually pretty good.

So celebrating traditional, universal holidays isn’t where I SHINE as a mother. I’m generally not the mom that offers to make cupcakes for the Christmas party. I’m not the mom that volunteers to paint eggs or make a Thanksgiving turkey. I have a really hard time coming up with cute ideas for a Halloween costume. And… (prepare to cringe) I might very well forget to call my mom on Mother’s Day if it weren’t for the fact that school teachers remind my kids to shower me with homemade cards and slobbery kisses on said day.

BUT. I do celebrate! Just not always when a pre-marked calendar tells me to. I celebrate birthdays without fail. I let my children choose how and where and when and with whom they’d like to party, and then we proceed to act like a family of baboons that have just been released from the zoo. I will do Thanksgiving, too. Because there’s something intrinsically beautiful about eating gravies and pies and stuffing until you fall into a gluttony-induced coma… all for the sake of showing gratitude.

I revere Christmas… because I believe in taking a day to honor hope and goodness and family. And witnessing that frenzied expression on a child’s face when thery realize that YES! SANTA DIDN’T HOLD THAT ROCK INCIDENT AGAINST ME!! also makes it worth my while. I think it’s important to remember Martin Luther King, Jr. And to commemorate this country’s independence. And our veteran’s, too.

But that’s about it for me. Sure, I’ll play along if my kids want to decorate our windows in ghosts and goblinny-type stuff. I’m not against buying the Valentine’s Day cards if their teachers request that I buy them, either.

But I’d rather put my time and energy into throwing a huge slumber party when my daughter Antonia brings home straight As. I’ll put aside my laziness to sing, dance and dress up like a clown when Jonah does all his chores without being reminded. I don’t do streamers and balloons, but I do like to decorate my house with daisies and tigerlilies and large, green apples to mark the Summer Solstice since winter spreads out and makes itself downright comfortable for three-quarters of the year in the San Luis Valley.

Graduations, anniversaries, births, the publishing of a book and I am THERE with a smile and a gift and some really great wine, too. Just… do me a favor and don’t ask me to bring the candy.

Catherine Dix

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  • comment avatar Dana Chase March 25, 2008

    I am right there with you and am plagued by guilt because of it. So I fake to be THAT mother, for the sake of the children!

  • comment avatar Janet March 25, 2008

    I am so that mother too. My two little ones come home with the colored egg (real, not fake!), the Mother’s Day gifts, the Father’s Day gifts, et. al. I love Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, and summer. But do I decorate my house? Not unless it is Christmas because my parents have trees and I love Christmas. Do I feel guilty when I go to my stay at home neighbor’s house which is decorated to the hilt in whatever holiday it is? Ummm, YEA! But will I change? Ummmm, probably not. Holidays are what you make of it and how you enjoy them with your family. That is important. Not what Hallmark says.

  • comment avatar Amber March 25, 2008

    I am one of those annoying women who goes all out for the holidays and events. However, I fall short with crafts. I am plagued by guilt that I am not constantly bringing out the gluesticks and paper, making homemade cards for Grandma, etc.

    In my opinion, thank goodness for Hallmark!

  • comment avatar Amber March 25, 2008

    And no, this is not a product pitch for that one card company. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Candace March 25, 2008

    Oh, I can bring the candy, all right. It just won’t be homemade!

  • comment avatar Catherine March 25, 2008

    You’re very right, Amber. Hallmark definitely has its uses! πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Caloden March 26, 2008

    I love any and all holiday, mostly because it is a diversion from most anything I really need to be doing, like laundry. But I fall short in the organizational department. My kids will likely have the most outlandish Easter egg hunts, involving elaborate scavenger hunts and whatnot. But the likelihood they will have matching socks? Not so good.

  • comment avatar Kagey March 26, 2008

    My mom was great at all the holiday stuff. Even came up with crafty things for me and my sibs to do with each holiday. And don’t get me started on Christmas. She still makes over 12 different kinds of cookies & candy for Christmas, and none of are home to help eat it. (Neighbors & friends get generous plates.) She makes 10 dozen sugar cookies alone, and frosts the individually.
    So the fact that I didn’t get to ANY Christmas baking this year, and only made 4 kinds of cookie the year before causes me some guilt. I’m still trying to find a balance between the super-holiday Mom my own mother is and what I can handle.
    Other holidays are less intense, and I feel less guilty about them – I got small easter baskets for the kids, but we don’t have any decorations up. And I don’t feel guilty at all. Maybe I am finding that balance?

  • comment avatar Lizzy March 27, 2008

    I fail in the consistency area. One year Christmas will be all out, the next we barely get a tree up and presents wrapped. This year I had a bunch of Valentine decorations ready to put up, but they never went up. And I did a better job at celebrating St. Paty’s day than Easter.

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