I think raising children thoroughly in the mainstream world when you know not everything about it is good for them or you is so tricky. Let’s take Easter for example. It takes place not that many months out from Christmas (another tricky holiday), and is not too long after M.’s end of February birthday and is always within the orbit of E.’s early April birthday. In other words, my children have already been inundated with stuff.
But, of course, Easter isn’t about the stuff that the Easter Bunny (if you do that sort of thing, and we do) brings, but about rebirth, either in the Christian sense, or, if you’re more agnostic as I am, it’s an opportunity to also acknowledge the rebirth-ing aspect of Spring.
My children get a pretty heavy dose of both versions, having a fairly Catholic father and a mother who is still learning what she is. And even though we work to put the focus of these holy days on their true spirit, getting sucked into the stuff is all too easy. So, I spent all of last week fussing over just what it was we were going to do for an Easter basket. I knew I didn’t want lots of candy or cheap-y, plastic toys. I can’t stand the stuff (the toys, that is; I like candy just a bit too much) and they often end up in the trash days later, which makes me feel wasteful and guilty. I also didn’t want to do individual baskets for the kids, but to find items that could be shared by a four year old and nine year old felt like an awfully tall order. On top of that, I have done the gardening and outdoor toy themes to death. They are in no need for such things (if I’m honest with myself, they are in no need for anything; this problem is very much a privilege to have).
So, this is a long-about way for me to tell you what I ended up doing, with the thought in mind that I can’t possibly be the only mother who has or is facing this dilemma (How do we participate thoughtfully in holidays that are so consistently about stuff ?). This is what I ended up getting:
StoryWorld’s Nature: I always try to include books in our Easter baskets, always with some sort of natural theme. This, by far, is my favorite book yet, and I cannot wait to see what the littles do with it. There are no words, just series of pictures that tell a little story, allowing the “reader” to infer and elaborate as they desire.
Far Out Bubbles: I had asked one the Waldorf school/parenting groups I’m a part of on Facebook what would be a good addition to our Easter basket and pretty much everyone suggested bubbles. These make huge bubbles!
Barnyard Tower Puzzle: M. in particular enjoys puzzles lately, and though we’re moving right into April there is still so. much. snow. Indoor activities are still a necessity around here as our yard turns to muddy slush.
Rainbow Pocket Kite: Last spring and summer we found ourselves at Fort Williams Park and the Portland Headlight and it seems like this is prime kite flying territory. I told the kids that this year we would be prepared!
Melissa and Doug Stuffed Bunnies: It’s Easter and spring. We need bunnies, right?
So, despite some misgivings about buying stuff (I’ll add, to make myself feel better, I did buy all of this from local/Maine-based businesses), I am pleased with this. I think we’ll add a chocolate bunny or two and be done with it, though I’m still teetering on the edge of my seat, wondering if this is too much or too little and are we focused, in our other traditions, on what’s truly important about this time of year? I’m still not sure about that last part, perhaps indicating a little more exploration is necessary.