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Can We Bring the Holidays Down a Notch?

Yesterday on Tuesday

Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday I had completely forgotten about until my son Jafta stumbled into the living room at about 11:30pm the night before while we were watching SNL.  

“Can I help you guys hide the gold coins?” he asked. The WHAT?  “The gold coins. I know the leprechauns aren’t real. I know it’s you, like Santa. So I want to help you. I can make the leprechaun trap, too.”

We told Jafta to go to bed and then looked at each other with exasperation. Gold coins? A leprechaun trap? Is he serious?  When I was a kid we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by wearing something green. THE END. I had noticed that over the past few years, our kids were getting some grander ideas from school. But I didn’t think that we needed to replicate these experiences at home.

Apparently, the children believed that we did.

All of them woke up and came into our room like it was Christmas morning.

Did a leprechaun visit?

Can we search for him?

Did he leave a pot of gold?

Let’s go find the gold coins!

I bet he left chocolate! 

So. Many. Expectations.

All of which were dashed.

I had four seriously disappointed and grumpy kids on my hands. At one point my daughter India went into full-blown meltdown mode, kicking random items in her room and yelling about what a LAME HOLIDAY this was.

And in my overly-tired impatient state, I might have yelled back, “YOU’RE RIGHT. This IS a lame holiday. It was never my favorite. All we did was wear green. That’s all we’re doing today. I’m sorry if you do more at school. That’s not what we do here. I don’t know where you are hearing this stuff but it’s not happening here.”

People. St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to be a “phone-it-in” holiday. Yes, I’ve turned into a bit of a grinch, but SERIOUSLY WITH THE HOLIDAY OVERKILL. As if Christmas wasn’t already hard enough as a parent, someone also decided that we have to move an Elf around every day, into creative tableaus? And then someone else decided that the Advent Calendar was A Thing beyond a simple religious observation and now involves some kind of gift each day leading up to Christmas?

Plus: On Hating New Year's Eve

And less than a month after having survived that whole mess, we’ve got Valentine’s Day which has became The New Halloween, because God forbid you send a simple store-bought card. You’d better include some candy or your child will be shunned. Shunned! One of my kids came home with not just a candy from each class, but a WHOLE FREAKING GOODIE BAG from each student. 

Hey, overachieving parent who started this goodie bag trend: I’ve got a message for you.  It’s a homemade Valentine card that Karis made. I’d originally pulled it out of the rotation, but I’d like to use it now.

And then, I think I’ve got a break for a month BUT NO. Surprise! We’ve got 100 Days of School to celebrate. And by “celebrate” I mean the kids sticking 100 things on a hat. And by “the kids” I mean me.

And suddenly Pi Day is a thing? My children expect to be served pie because someone at school told them so?

And do not even get me started on what Easter has become. When I was a kid my mom went to the store and bought us a new dress and a pre-made plastic Easter basket for $8.99.  THE END. There was candy and we loved it. Maybe we would dye some eggs from a kit sitting in the check-out lane at Target. They would look like crap. 

Now we’ve got to leave footprints from the Easter Bunny and make artful, Pinterest-worthy eggs with stencils and ikat prints and probably some that are ombre.

I don’t like the feeling of disappointing my kids. But I refuse to give into this holiday overkill. I’m overwhelmed enough as it is. Today I gave all of my kids a bath. We read with each of them for the recommended 20 minutes. We reviewed our Math Facts. We practiced guitar. We sat together at the table and ate a meal that was NOT procured at a drive-thru.  We played outside. Most days, I’m struggling to achieve all these things. I can’t have these haphazard, once-monthly overblown holidays take over my life.  I can go big for Christmas and Easter. That’s all I can handle. 

But I can’t do this alone. Fellow parents . . . teachers . . . Sunday school workers . . . I beseech you: BRING IT DOWN A NOTCH.  Ya’ll are setting up expectations that I just can’t maintain. Wouldn’t we all be just a little happier if we returned to the slacker days of store-bought valentines and kit-dyed eggs and JUST WEARING A GREEN SHIRT AND CALLING IT A DAY?

For the sake of overwhelmed parents like me, I beg you. Stop the madness. 

This post originally appeared on Rage Against the Minivan. Republished with permission. 

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