Friday, April 10, 2009

What's up with Easter gifts?

I'm going to do it again. Here goes: in my day, we never got gifts at Easter. After giving something up for Lent and spending the whole day of Ash Wednesday with a dusty smear on our foreheads, we prayed a lot, then Easter week (the week more important to Christians than Christmas, mind you) we went to church every evening from Holy Thursday to Easter Monday. I'm as serious as a crucifixion here. No Easter Bunny, no chocolate, no presents and, frankly, no fun. But a lot of church and praying, though, so that totally made up for it for 2 impressionable kids aged 5 and 7.

Nowadays I struggle with what to do with my own kids. I want them to have a ball of a childhood but I don't want them to abandon the church. As Dr. Phil would ask "How's that workin' for ya?". Well, it's not, doc. In an effort to scrub away the cross shaped smudge and not have it transferred onto my kids, I went in the complete opposite direction. The heathen direction. We go to church at Christmastime and that's it. I use non-denominational bon mots like "treat people the way you want to be treated" and "what you put out into the world comes back to you" so Easter to them means nothing more than a visit from a bizarre rabbit that lays chocolate eggs.

But I digress... this was about presents, right? I'm seeing lots of ads for toys that say things like "just in time for Easter!!". What's that about? Even with my limited knowledge of the heathen Easter (or Heathster as I'm going to start calling it), I was pretty sure that it was all about the candies. Not actual gifts.

Since my gang has been little, I've been hiding candies for them. It's been a learning experience for me. Like the time about 5 years ago after Scott and I had so diligently hidden 3 kids' worth of chocolate and jellybeans around the house. That year, 6 year old Elliott woke up first, quietly hunted around thanking his lucky stars, and ate everyone's Easter booty. That was his first and only spanking to my recollection. Happy Heathster!

Yup, we've learned from that tragic day to not hide candy but to leave 3 complete, sealed baskets with their names on them hidden around the house. We take what we call a "ransom photo" (close-up, blurry, crooked and with very little of the location visible) and have the kids search for them. Works great. The baskets are filled with candies but no toys. Does that make me a bad mother? Should I buy toys? The more I think about it, the more I think, hell no. The kids get gifts for every damned occasion. Why are we spoiling them so badly? In fact, Elliott's birthday is a month away. I may bend and give a skipping rope, sidewalk chalk or bubble stuff but videos, bikes and skateboards? I don't think so. I'm still gifted out from Heathenmas.

Now, if they're interested in a dvd copy of Charlton Heston's 10 Commandments, then maybe we can talk. It's a 4 hour God-stravaganza that my dad just may think is religious enough for my little heathens. But don't tell him we're not going to church.

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