Holiday (and sugar) overload. Or is that overlord?

Somehow, every time a holiday rolls around, it seems like my kids have several hundred events related to that holiday. There are a lot more events than there used to be. Halloween, for example, used to have just a day-of carnival at the local school, plus trick or treating. Now every school has a carnival, there’s a class party where the kids bring home buckets of treats, and then trick-or-treating, haunted houses, and pumpkin farm visits on top of it.

Today was the day before the 3-day Easter break (because Hawaii took spring break much earlier) and each kid brought home a load of candy.

In my preschooler’s case, it seems more acceptable. Each event is new and exciting and huge; they have parades for the seniors at the adjacent center. They wear funny and adorable costumes and make preparations as solemnly as priests preparing Communion.

But there are too many events. Now there’s going to be the Biggest Egg Hunt on the island this Saturday, there’s church, there’s more egg painting to be done, there’s the Easter bunny making his personal visit, and who knows what I’m forgetting.

I may sound rather like an Andy Rooney-esque curmudgeon, but I remember, as a kid:

  • Having a celebration on the day of the holiday.
  • Being really really happy with that one event.

So we got only a single Easter basket. So we just went Trick or Treating on Halloween, we didn’t go to a million other things. We had an Easter egg hunt at one place, not at home, at the White House, at the church, at the school, and at the community center. If we had a class party, it was modest and involved somebody’s Mom, Kool-Aid, and some cupcakes, not individually prepared goody bags that put celebrity swag bags to shame.

I fear we’re creating dissatisfaction within our kids, a wanting more-more-more of everything. Right now, it’s Huge Halloween Event Week, followed by Ye Two Months of Christmas, then the Four Days of Easter.

Later, this wanting turns into a Super Big Glamorous Sweet Sixteen and before you know it, you’re being featured on MTV and your kid’s crying because you bought her the white BMW instead of the black. Then this turns into wanting an Even Bigger More Spectacular Not Disappointing Wedding on top of it, in which dancing leprechauns fall out helicopters throwing gold coins into the streets and the bride (your kid) is pulling her maid-of-honor’s hair because she refused to wear the high heeled shoes.

Because if you get all this spectacular me-centered stuff when you’re a kid, you don’t really have that much to look forward to as an adult, do you?

Nor can you be particularly happy with a one-time event that is for the event itself, not for the hoopla. How can you be happy getting married with a backyard BBQ if every birthday your parents have hired a circus for you?

I think I want my kids to have less now, not more. That way, when they graduate from college and take that first lowly low-paying job where they have to eat ramen two or seven nights a week, they won’t be as unhappy as their peers who were used to big flat screen TVs and circuses and two dozen Easter egg hunts and all the chocolate they could eat. Maybe they will toss their heads and say, “This is nothin’. I remember back in the day when we had to make do with basic cable, and sometimes we had to walk like a whole block to school, and my mom got sick of carting us to all the Halloween carnivals, so we had to find rides or skip it!”

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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