Thursday, March 20, 2014

In Defense of the Holiday Loving Parent

Lately, I've seen a lot of posts complaining about parents who do over the top things for their kids for holidays or their birthdays.  The whole complaining about what someone else does thing bothers me.  Who is anyone to tell someone else what they should celebrate and to what extent?  There are no rules, no guidelines, no boundaries on emotion.  Why should anyone try to tone down their joy?

You may not know this about me, but I had a bad childhood.  Horrific.  I could probably write a screenplay for a Lifetime movie of the week.  There are days when I regress back into a very dark place.  To combat this, I've chosen to turn towards joy.  Instead of numbing my feelings with drugs, alcohol, or other addictions like some people in my position, I try my darnedest to achieve happiness because for a very long time, I'd forgotten what happiness felt like.

I never want this for my children.  I hope that should they ever find themselves in a dark place later on in life that they would have some beautiful, joyous childhood memories that they could cling to.  Should life beat them down later, perhaps they will be comforted by the yesterdays that are full of smiles.  And I understand that such memories don't always include a holiday or a birthday or a vacation.  But none of us know what kind of memory will stick with our children, do we?

What does this have to do with holidays?  For me, they are times when we get reminded to feel joy and celebrate.  Yes, we should celebrate every single day but admit it, most of us don't.  Getting through the laundry, the homework, the dinner battle, the bedtime routine, etc... is exhausting and most days, it's all I can do to get it done.  It can be easy to forget to celebrate everyday and pursue joy.  Holidays give us a kick in the rear that says "HEY, celebrate today!"

Plus, with all the hustle and bustle of daily life, it's easy to forget that this small window where our children are at home with us is extremely short.  Soon they will be off living their own lives and we will go back to dreading Christmas because it's a pain in the butt to travel to see everyone.  And it costs money we don't have to buy gifts for everyone.  And it's annoying to pull out the ladder and hang the darn lights that we just have to take back down in a couple weeks.

Let's not forget MAGIC.  The window that our children believe in magical beings that come into your life to merely delight you is so very short.  We are nearing the end with our oldest and I feel like that window just barely opened.  The sweet innocence of seeing what Santa put under the tree and finding Easter eggs is fleeting.  Kids are growing up faster and faster.

So, what's an extra hour to build a leprechaun trap?  I got to sit with my son and craft with him.  Crafting that I usually do sitting alone in my office.  I got to share with him the love of paper and glue and glitter.  He was proud of it!  He showed his friends.  He talked to them about how we made it.  And what's 5 minutes tying shoelaces together or turning pictures upside for "leprechaun tricks"?  I spend at least twice that in line at Starbucks to get coffee for myself and that doesn't cause my kids to talk about it for months and months after it happens.  "Remember when the leprechaun turned the picture upside down?"  No joke, they talked about at least 10 times after it happened.    

Another thing I would like to address is that other parents feel pressure.  Well guess what?  You're putting that pressure on yourself.  I couldn't care less if you build a leprechaun trap.  I couldn't care less if you have no holiday decorations for any holiday ever.  You don't celebrate birthdays?  Fine by me.  To each their own!  I highly doubt that any holiday loving parent like myself cares if/what you do for your own kid.  Please stop acting like we do.

I do these things for my children.  To show them that I love them.  I don't know what your love language is but this is part of mine.  I stay up for days on end making a 3 tier cake out of paper for a birthday party because though we might not be able to afford an extravagant party, I can give them me.  My time.  My love.  My creativity.  My effort.  Something that I did with my hands to say "you are the most special person in the world to me and I want you to know.  And to remember.  And to keep it in your heart for a dark day when life beats you down."

But you should show your kids you love them in your own way.  By reading to them or teaching them to cook or playing catch with them, whatever it is that you do to create special memories.  I would never think less of anyone for not going all out on holidays or birthdays or any occasion.  However, asking someone to tone down their own joy and their children's joy because you don't want to hear your own children complain about how little Jimmy's mom did this and that and you didn't?  Well, I'll let you decide what kind of person that makes you.  


  1. Well put Ashley. Enjoy every moment with your precious children.

  2. Most of the world's problems could be solved by not comparing.

  3. Yes!! I roll my eyes every time I see one of those complainy posts in my Facebook feed. The solution is to probably get off Facebook and go do something crafty instead ;)