(Photo courtesy of Yann Coeuru, Flickr Creative Commons)
Happy Easter, friends! And, happy spring!
It truly is a glorious time of the year here on the East Coast of the US. Azaleas and cherry trees in full bloom, sunshine, birds singing, new life. And, Easter, a very special holiday tradition from my childhood, one that I’ve always wanted to share with my own children.
I love traditions, both the high holy religious ones and the everyday ones that give rhythm to our days. And, as the parent of young children I sometimes find myself worrying “we have to create our own family traditions now while they’re young!! What are we going to do for (fill in the blank with a holiday) to make it special?”
(Since Halloween wasn’t really celebrated in my or D.’s families growing up, we’ve chosen to skip that holiday for now. And, we only this past year, E. being three years old, decided to do the whole presents under the tree for Christmas.)
My holding back, so to speak, on the whole holiday celebrations thing stems from my journey into RIE parenting, Magda Gerber’s approach to childcare. One of my favorite quotations of hers is “do less, enjoy more.” That sentiment, together with her reminder to parents that “earlier is not better,” has helped me worry so much less about when my children will accomplish X or do Y or learn Z.
Her words have also reassured me that everything in its due time, including family and religious traditions.
And, so, Easter 2017. My attempt at simplicity and less.
“I’ll just avoid all the candy and plastic.” I told myself.
“Fair trade Easter baskets and a few simple wooden toys.”
“Yes, yes. That’s definitely the whole ‘less is more’ vibe.”
I found a wonderful idea on Pinterest (that should be a red flag right there) that I simplified (well, it sounded simple enough in my head) to what I thought would be an age-appropriate illustration of the Christian meaning of Easter for E.
I even used books and toys that already belong to E. to decorate the Easter montage instead of purchasing new toys (“I’m so cool; I recycle.”)
“Simple. Less. Meaningful. Child-centered. Perfect.” I reassured myself.
Or, so I thought.
I’m not going to lie. I was pretty proud of how my Easter tableau came out.
But, as I went to bed the night before Easter, I knew. I just knew.
I overdid it. For a three-year old preschooler and an almost 10-month old baby.
This feeling was confirmed the minute I thought, I can’t wait to upload a photo to Instagram, and…
E.’s (and, J.’s) reaction to my masterpiece on Easter morning.
E., wide-eyed: “¡Huevos de chocolate! ¡Mira!” (“Chocolate eggs! Look!) “Toma, J., un libro para ti.” (E. handed baby J. her old copy of Pat the Bunny, which he promptly stuck in his mouth.)
As E. unwrapped the foil off of her Cadbury egg, I kept trying to turn her attention to the handmade Russian wooden eggs, each filled with a different picture illustrating one of six qualities about Jesus (one for each of the six letters in the Spanish word for Easter, Pascua).
“Oh, no! We’re going to get through this Easter montage without her knowing the true meaning of Easter! If I can just get her to understand that Jesús vive (“Jesus lives”), then all is not lost!” I panicked to myself.
Meanwhile, J. was chomping on the upper righthand corner of his hand-me-down book and D. just sat there smiling to himself.
When E. grabbed another chocolate egg, totally bypassing her Bonga basket (“I even bought it in pink, her favorite color!”) and overlooking the fairy ribbon wand with her name engraved I’d bought off Etsy, I busted out laughing…
And, sat quietly thanking both E. and J. for keeping it real.
For keeping my adult-agenda in check and for reminding me that when it comes to holidays and traditions with young children, less is more and simplest is best.
RIE childcare expert, author, and blogger Janet Lansbury writes: “Don’t stress out about creating traditions or making memories. In fact, I believe we should take those concerns off our holiday plates completely. It’s been my experience that the warmest memories and most lasting traditions are surprises that are sparked and kindled by our children.”
Remember that fairy ribbon wand that lay forlorn in E.’s Easter basket? And, how I thought she’d missed the whole meaning of Easter?
Well, later that morning, E. asked me if I’d dance with her in her room before church. She grabbed a play silk from the drawer and I picked up that fairy wand (I’m not going to lie, I kind of want one in my size) and we danced – at her request – to “Jesús Resucitó” (“Jesus is Risen”), a Spanish Christian pop song.
As we both danced off-rhythm, waving our arms and laughing, I caught her singing along, Jesús resucitó, Él vive hoy. Él cambió nuestro lamento en baile….
Él vive hoy…
Interested in reading more about simplicity parenting and respectful, child-centered ways to approach holidays and family traditions? Check out these helpful reads.
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
Creative Spirits by Janet Lansbury
The Holiday Season: Putting the Genie Back in the Bottle by Kim John Payne
Some People Believe in Santa by Teacher Tom