Not-So-BIG Celebrations

As a child, our Easter celebrations had a delightful regularity. In the morning, I would see what the Easter Bunny brought, and then we'd eat breakfast, get dressed up in new clothes, and go to church. After church, we'd return home, and I'd leave my new clothes on until after my grandmother, aunt, & uncle arrived. When I was even younger, my uncle wasn't married to my aunt yet, and my paternal grandmother was still alive and mobile, so the party would have been two grandmothers and my aunt.

You'll notice I was the only child in the picture, literally and figuratively. I am an only child. My father is an only child; my mother's only sibling, my aunt, adopted her daughter the same year I was pregnant with my oldest child.

We'd take pictures, change clothes at last, eat Easter Dinner, and hunt eggs. I can remember legendary egg hunts, especially as I got older; we'd all take turns at hiding the eggs and everyone tried to find them. The hiding places got more and more complex as we tried to stump each other. Often, after hunting eggs, we'd play board games until it was time for everyone to leave.

While my extended family was not huge, I felt for years that holidays were, in a sense, defined by the presence of extended family, and the more extended family, the better. When my aunt adopted my cousin Emily, I was thrilled that EG would have a cousin her age. No, we didn't live in the same town, but we're separated by a distance of less than 100 miles, and our family made the trip often; the rest of the extended family, less often; my parents, quite often indeed. And, in fact, holiday celebrations for several years were more or less what I had pictured at one point.

Of course, long before I ever knew the Spousal Unit, I had dreams of having nieces and nephews via my imagined-spouse's imagined-siblings. Spousal Unit does, in fact, have two sisters, but I knew by 2001 or so that things would not be precisely as I had once imagined. One of his sisters is a good bit younger than me, and I had had my children pretty early, after all. I honestly didn't anticipate the other sister having children at all, due to her own statements.

(She does, in fact, have a child now, who is almost three. I've seen my niece maybe three times. Things deteriorated with most of Spousal Unit's family around the time of FB's birth.)

But years passed, and my extended family was less willing to travel. We were less willing to travel, too, as we added first FB and then PC. I understood a reluctance to travel on Easter Sunday, and Christmas, but when my grandmother stopped attending birthday parties and Thanksgiving, it was hard not to take it personally.

Okay, I'm trying to write this dispassionately, but here's the truth: it's still really hard not to take it personally. She says we're too far to drive, now, on a flat, straight shot of an interstate highway, but will still drive northward, into mountains, on state roads or worse, a journey of far more miles.

So our celebrations are smaller, certainly. My parents come, and that is the extent of our guests for holidays. Birthdays still include Spousal Unit's mother. Things don't look how I had always dreamt, but the positive side of that, I suppose, is innovation. No one is going to complain, after all, that instead of pastel-shaded cupcakes or a bunny face cake, we had a standing bunny.(My bunny cake was somewhat awkward and left-leaning, so we named him Al.)

How, then, did our Easter look, compared to those of yesteryear? The kids woke early - very early - and went to see what the Easter Bunny brought. This was EG's first chance to help stuff the baskets and she had a lot of fun helping with FB's and PC's baskets last night. We ate breakfast, cleaned up, and the kids watched a video. Later, they put on new clothes, and we took lots of pictures, and hunted a few eggs. The kids changed clothes. We ate Easter Dinner (ham, macaroni & cheese, asparagus, & glazed carrots) before eating Al the Bunny Cake. Then we did a lot more egg hunting. After my parents left for home, EG & FB played Monopoly in her room, EG practiced piano, PC took a much-needed nap, and we've had a lazy sort of evening.

What would I change? I admit, as much as I feel conflicted over many churches, I greatly miss the ritual of worship in a church. And I do miss the complex egg hunts, though I know those will gradually return as the kids get older. I do regret, somewhat, that my kids won't have the experience of waiting for "everyone" to show up on a holiday, but except for EG, they have rarely known any different, and it's hard to miss something you haven't experienced.

We keep rituals and celebrations, though, and as I said before, there's no one to complain about change or innovation. We can keep tweaking away until we have rituals and routines that feel right for our family, not for an imagined family. In that respect, I'll keep our not-so-big celebrations, after all.


Daisy said...

This was the first year we weren't invited to our friend's house for Easter. Our friendship has deteriorated since I started homeschooling, but we had held on to that Easter get together. I was sad, but we actually wound up having a great day. Would really love to see family but that never happens on holidays.

Our children will have their own "good" memories, they just won't be the same as ours. I wouldn't give up my not-so-big celebrations for anything.

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