So a post on Rage Against the Minivan was shared multiple times on the FB and the interweb yesterday about taking holidays down a notch in our era of craft blogs and the all mighty Pinterest (thanks for the link, Megan!) I read it yesterday morning and Matt and I immediately started a discussion of how our family celebrates (because I go both ways in the holiday department, if you know what I mean.)
Now anyone that actually knows Matt knows he really likes "the magic." The magic of Disney... of Christmas... of Cinco de Mayo...of any made-up holiday he's interested in... when he thinks there is magic to be had, he triples it. So as we're lying in bed ignoring a newly-awake-EZ yelling from his crib, he tells me a story of a St. Paddy's day back in the early 90's.
A young Matt starts thinking about the upcoming green holiday and he decides that instead of wearing green, he'd really like to paint both of his arms green. He starts to imagine the look on his classmates' faces as he walks through the halls with green arms and all the hilarity that would ensue. There would be no pinching, only laughter and awe as they appreciated what he'd done. So on the morning of this particular St. Patrick's day of elementary school, his parents paint both of his arms green from the shoulder all the way down to the hand. And he doesn't wear a stitch of green on his clothing because he understood how to be ironic. Bright.Green.Arms. This is what he came up with as a child. And do you know how the story ends? "I still got pinched because people said I had to be wearing green."
Then he reminded me of Christmas during high school. He and his friends were quite creative in finding ways to get out of class and they all caught "the magic" during their senior year. So they decide it would be really neat to dress up as Santa and his elves for an entire day of school simply because. Matt approached my mom (a seamstress) with this idea, and she and I helped them construct elf costumes (pointy shoes included!) while another friend located a Santa costume.
I believe they got out of all their classes that day & also had the pleasure of attention from the ladies. The magic, I say!
So back to yesterday morning. After our trip down memory lane, we remembered a Christmas podcast from a few months back. This American Life played "Lights, Camera, Christmas!" in December and it has stories of parents (mostly dads) that made these outlandish experiences for their children. Paid actors playing Santa shuffling around their wooded backyard. Hidden reindeer bones and really sneaky (sort of scary) elves. Never actually admitting it was fake. "People had an experience" "The magic is too powerful" from the lips of dad. Then there was the other dad who threw poop on his roof every year to "prove" that reindeer had visited. You really should listen to the podcast because it's very funny. (And it's sort of like Matt's future as a dad.)
And to think, all of these magical experiences happened without the manicured pages of Pinterest. Magic of holidays has always existed and who's to say how far is too far? I find I'm on both sides of the RATMV post mentioned at the beginning. I loved it because I relate to scoffing at high expectations and crazy, elaborate parties, but then also have a desire to create elaborate experiences with my own family. I doubt I'll ever paint leprechaun footprints or move an elf every day, but then again maybe I will? Maybe I won't go over the top with Easter, but Halloween will be huge. Matt and I even created a character and a poem for Cinco de Mayo before we ever had a child! I think magic comes to children whether we as parents (teachers.. adults) make it for them, but maybe we can make it easier for them to retain their magic? Maybe make it more about the imagination and spontaneity of childhood rather than a photo-shoot-worthy moment. As long as the intentions of WHY we're doing these crazy things is clear (ya know... about kids and magic and fun), then I say Go Forth crazy-over-the-top-people-of-the-world! Or don't! That's cool too.
But maybe you'll have a kid like Matt who takes it too far simply because he feels "the magic" and can't contain himself. I can only hope EZ asks me to paint his arms green or make him an elf costume or something else entirely. And I also hope that we're creating enough experiences, both large and small, to make childhood magical. Holidays or not.