Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Do you believe in magic?

I'm not Christian so I hate holidays like Easter.  Wait, hate is a strong word.  I'm "divided" about it because yes I want my kids to have a well rounded "normal" childhood that often mirrors the experiences of their peers however, I don't believe in Jesus zombies and I don't want to teach my children about that as anything other than general mythology.  Kind of like how we talk about Zeus and Athena and all those cool Greek Gods.  "It's a pretty cool story huh?" and then we can move on.  If my kids want to be Christian later in their lives, that's fine.  I'm not anti-religion.  If you want to believe in something that's great and wonderful for YOU.  Good for you, not for me.  I identify as Buddhist but I don't give other people a hard time about not celebrating the various Buddhist fetes.  You probably don't even know about them.  But with Christianity? It's everywhere.  I can't get away from it.

Now you probably hate me, but hear me out.  I don't LIKE being forced into things in general.  I didn't like team sports in school.  I don't like pledging allegiance to the flag, but I put my hand over my heart and mumble because there's no harm in some mild outward assimilation.  I'm not a jerk about it, but it doesn't mean I agree with all of it.  When I am at someone else's house and they insist on saying grace because they believe God had something to do with the 4 hours they spent slaving over the stove, I hold hands and mumble with my eyes downward.  Despite being raised without the fear of God I became a decent and empathetic human being that understands that we have different perspectives.  No one is "right" when it comes to opinion.  I like french vanilla ice cream over vanilla bean.  It's just a preference, I don't yell at people who buy plain chocolate for being dumb.  

My kids know Easter like it's a Hallmark holiday.  Chicks and bunnies and eggs made of plastic filled with junky candy.  I liken it to a springtime equinox that we threw some holiday decor around.  We're happy it's spring and we can finally shed our parkas and gloves and hats and welcome the warmth and new life popping up around us.  My kids also know Christmas as a silly holiday where a fat stranger gives gifts to good children and we drag a tree from outside into our home and hang lights on it as though we are not lunatics looking for a fire hazard.  I don't go crazy about any of these holidays because they're just holidays.  I don't like, decorate 4 Christmas trees and buy $5,000 in gifts and make homemade jellies for all my acquaintances.  If you can afford to do that? Great.  I'm actually not knocking it.  If you find joy in sharing your love and affection via sweaters and xboxes that's great.  I hate decorating the house.  I think mulled wine is strange and full of lumpy things I dislike such as cloves. I think peppermint flavored anything is meant for brushing one's teeth and the amounts of peppermint candy at Christmas pretty much ruin candy all together for a month because I never know when one of those peppermint bombs will find their way into the mix.  I love cookies but whenever I make more than a dozen at a time my kids start bouncing around like my own live action pinball machine.  Your family must really enjoy your enthusiasm for it though and I commend you for the energy to pull it together.  As long as you can afford it and you're doing it out of the joy of giving and not out of some expectation of receiving then I can't see the harm in straight up generosity and thoughtfulness.  Again, "Good for you, not for me".  Do I aspire to have more holiday spirit? Sure, but so far it's not catching on so well.  

My ultimate motivation however? The kids. When other kids talk about their holidays I want my kids to be part of that too.  I often felt left out because Santa literally didn't come to our house.  My parents bought me gifts and didn't want any mythical fat man taking the credit for their hard work, labor and money.  I kind of don't blame them since I bust my hump making the holidays happen and it'd be nice to get a pat on the back for all that sneaking around and buying presents on the sly but seeing happy kids is worthwhile.  When they're babies they don't know anything from anything, but since my kids are 5 and 3 now they are totally with it and aware of what's going on and the magic is real.  The mythical magical strangeness of a bunny that poops out jellybeans totally makes sense to them.  Funny enough when prompted my 5 year old will deny the existence of a Tooth Fairy but believes with all his heart in a human sized Easter Bunny.

I think religion is great and it probably really helps form a community around you and your children.  The problem for me is that I am introverted and strange people even within my community make me highly uncomfortable.  Some of the nicest people I've ever met happen to have very strong religious affiliation and I wish I could also be as sweet, generous, kind and outwardly willing to just accept others.  It took a good year for me to make good friends at work and I literally see those people everyday.  Now I have a work bestie whom I am attached to the hip with but connections don't happen overnight for me.  I wish they did but they don't.  It seems to be so much more tedious to befriend others as I get older but probably because I value friendship much more and I think it's important to flesh out a truly good compatible friend that gets my idiosyncrasies and can laugh along with me instead of immediately pouncing and acting so righteous and better than me.  Trust me, you aren't a 24/7 picnic either but it's about finding those moments of humor and shared humanity versus showing off how great every facet of your life is.  There are days when I am a hot mess and my kids eat a corndog for dinner and the kitchen sink is completely overflowing despite the lack of culinary finesse.  And then there are days when I throw together a full Easter dinner complete with several sides and a homemade cake from scratch everything down to the candy coated pecans decorating the outside, the kids are dressed like angels and we pretend we've got it together.  It's those tiny moments of getting my act together and creating that magic which I hope the kids remember.