weeAdventure welcomes guest blogger Kristen Rellihan.
Is it me, or have the secondary holidays become over-the-top extravaganzas requiring the stealth of a SWAT team and at least three consultation phone calls with your favorite event planner? Growing up, we were content to make Valentine mailboxes out of old shoeboxes, some construction paper, glitter and markers. We even passed out store bought (GASP!) valentines to our classmates.
Now, it seems like every holiday has a retail element that commands the attention of our children in every grocery store and CVS in the land. I’m not kidding–do you know how many “I heart Arbor Day” shirts you can buy on Etsy?
All the hype around these secondary holidays leads to plotting, crafting and baking bonanzas that keep moms and dads up late at night as they try to surprise their kids and create a day to remember. The pressure can really get to a person!
I was in Target last week and noticed that St. Patrick’s Day had almost as much shelf space as cleaning supplies. Gone are the St. Patrick’s Days when you wore green and maybe–ok, definitely–a headband with shamrocks on springs bouncing around. Our big prize for celebrating the Luck O’ the Irish used to be a Shamrock Shake or two from McDonalds in the old fashioned Styrofoam cups.
But Shamrock Shakes apparently don’t cut it anymore…
Last year was my first St. Patrick’s Day as a mom. I listened – mouth and eyes wide open in shock – as my friends told me about the Naughty Leprechaun and the traps their kids were setting to catch him. Apparently there is a secret society that comes up with crazy ideas like this and unless you have kids, you continue celebrating as you always have with a Shamrock Shake in the neuvo McCafe recyclable cup, lots of Guiness and your favorite green sweater. As much as I’d like to buck the system, a little part of me loves the idea of taking these fun little holidays and turning them into a day full of surprises and treats. I’m taking this year as my practice year, trying out different ideas and developing what will become our family traditions.
My overall goal for each holiday is to find a way to make them about more than just the fun and to use it as a teaching moment wrapped in sugary treats and fun activities. This year, we’re going to talk about why we are lucky. My little boy is not quite 2, so this conversation is going to be pretty one sided, but I want to set the stage for us to have this discussion each year.
Don’t get me wrong, the Leprechaun is going to visit our house this year and I’m already excited for next year when he can take it up a notch and turn the water in the toilets green and leave little Leprechaun footprints on the ceilings and walls (I just don’t think these ideas will mean anything to my little guy this year). We’re going to eat green food all day long, bake green cookies, and wear oversized green sunglasses and shamrock hats. I’m not going to forgo the fun stuff – but I want to sprinkle a little reality check into the day.
Okay, so maybe a big part of me enjoys all of the plotting and planning. You can’t beat the look of surprise and awe on your child’s face when he sees the trail of gold chocolate coins and mess left behind by the Naughty Leprechaun or the smile on his face as he sips his milk that you dyed green and munch on shamrock shaped cookies you baked together. The green food dye you used will eventually wash off of your fingers, but the memories you create with your kids will last a lifetime, and that’s what it’s all about, right?
How do you plan on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with your family?
P.S. – Don’t forget to clue in your friends who are new parents to ideas like the Naughty Leprechaun. Trying to explain to your kid why the Leprechaun didn’t come to your house is more difficult than that classic: “Mom, where do babies come from?”