Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Guilt

My kindergartner noticed the lack of holiday hype revolving around Easter, “How come there aren’t any Easter decorations at school?” We had a good discussion about Easter and what it celebrates, one of my better parenting moments. Then he pointed out that we didn’t have any decorations up at our house either.

Ooops. We do have our wooden cross, fashioned from our Christmas tree, but it has been up since January: I think it blends in with the wall by now. I do have some old-fashioned Easter postcards I’ve been meaning to put up, but just haven’t gotten to it.

We don’t even buy the boys news spiffy outfits for Sunday morning, even though going to church on Sunday is really how we choose to celebrate this holiday. You’d think I’d embrace this concrete example of “new life.” But I find myself thinking, “One more thing we’d have to budget for and plan for and buy for.” No grandparents have stepped up to buy cute Easter outfits (not that I expect this either). I think this has never happened because I have all boys. My mom even admitted that she just didn’t think about it being important to them because they aren’t girls, that buying girls a pretty new Easter dress is way more enticing for the checkbook than slacks and a polo shirt. Growing up, my grandmothers would often sew my sister and me new digs, always made from matching patterns in complementary pastels. I do try and iron a button-up-shirt for the boys on Easter morning, attempting to find one with some springy, bright colors involved.

I feel a twinge of guilt when the ads come in the paper marketing all sorts of Easter basket pleasures that could make waking on Easter morn a bit more significant for my children. But I always resist, not really out of any moral conviction, but out of exhaustion. I find myself done with holiday hoopla around this time of year. Plus, if I start, then the expectation will be there, and I’ll be doing Easter baskets for the next 20-plus-years. I even console myself thinking, “Yeah, I’ll do that as a grandma. I’ll be the Easter-basket-grandma, putting them together with love and hand delivering them on the night before Easter.” I kind of think I will. Right?

With Christmas we have all sorts of celebratory events leading up to the 25th. We do an advent calendar, bake cookies, play Christmas music, shop for presents, go to various parties---it is non-stop Christmas fever. Valentines: we pick our cards out, sit around the kitchen table, and write a note to each classmate. Halloween: we discuss our coming costume choices (starting in about March), we go to the costume aisle, pick them out, wear them for a week or so before Halloween, and then continue to live in them even after October 31st has past. But Easter? I fail in creating anticipation.

The one thing I have put some effort into, the cross made from our Christmas tree, has faded into the clutter of our lives. But wait. Someone still knew it was there.

I was hosting a preschool event at our house. My boys were hyper! Kids were coming. Mommies were here. My oldest was showing off. So, with great exuberance he laid his body across our homemade cross and announced with arms outstretched, “I’m being crucified!” And then he ran around the house screaming at the top of his lungs. I could almost see imaginary blood spouting all over our house, like a bad B-rated movie. The visiting mother’s eyes: wide with shock. Community resolution: stay away from those Schneiter boys.

I found myself apologizing for my son’s brutality. It was embarrassing. I quickly suggested other types of play, “Hey, son, why don’t you show your friends your climbing ladder in your room.” Off they ran. Not one of my better mothering moments.

I guess my oldest hadn’t forgotten about the coming Easter holiday; however I wasn’t totally comfortable with the way he was commemorating it either. Maybe I should just focus on the miraculous bunny that delivers eggs instead. Maybe I should buy Easter baskets full of plastic trinkets and make sure my boys get new handsome shirts for Sunday morning. Maybe instead of a cross I should invest in some bunny decals for the window. Or maybe in the true spirit of Easter, I’m going to release the guilt and forgive myself for not always being the ultimate mother.

(I had major writer's block and just sent this in to The Graphic, but they said I was too slow and couldn't get it in before Easter. Boohoo. So, enjoy.)


Heather said...

Easter isn't about the bunny at our house either.

Rachel P. said...

Our children know they only receive gifts from us on three occasions: birthdays, Christmas and Easter. So my eldest son has been weighing the virtues of each desired Easter gift for weeks now and anticipating it. I do buy new dress shirts for the boys and it has the side benefit of helping me remember to buy something short-sleeved and summer appropriate to be worn the rest of the year. We attend Good Friday service and of course church on Sunday. These aren't things we feel every family should do, but they help us anticipate the holiday.