Sometime between my childhood
and my children’s, Easter became Christmas 2.0. Each year, my social media feed
overflows with overstuffed Easter baskets. I feel old just staying this, but
when I was a kid, you got a peanut butter egg from the church fundraiser and
some stale jelly beans. Maybe a chocolate bunny, which you had to share with
your sibling. Now, anything goes: Toys, movies, video games, trips to Disneyland
(OK, that last one might be a stretch, but I’m sure someone, somewhere has done
a “Disney Dream Vacation” reveal inside a golden egg.)
I’m all for cutting back on the
candy, which I’m guessing is how this whole Easter present arms race started. We're
a family who tries to limit sugar, so our children's baskets are mostly
non-candy items as well. I guess I’m just super cheap about it. I stock up on
coloring books and small toys at the dollar store, and that’s it.
I've built my website on the
concept of non-judgmental parenting,
but when I see the Easter baskets my friend and family pull together each year,
I can’t stop thinking, Seriously? What
are these people doing?
As if the promise of
everlasting life isn't enough, now I'm supposed to run out and buy Blu-Ray
discs and a jumbo pack of Troll figurines. My favorite aunt just sent me a
video of an adorable puppy with the message “Easter gift for the girls?” I
think she was kidding. Kind of. Maybe.
Then I remind myself not to be
I try to think about it from someone else’s point of view. It is fun to watch your kids receive
something they really wanted. Plus,
if you live anywhere with winter, you’ve all been stuck inside playing with
Christmas toys that lost their new-toy sparkle a month (or longer) ago. That
"Moana" DVD is sounding pretty good right about now.
Still, I know I’m not hopping
out to Target to stuff my cart with toys. I want my kids to be excited about
dollar-store bubbles. I want them to find fun without expensive things. I feel
pretty good about it... until they see what the Bunny brought their cousins and
No child goes home and
complains, “Why did she get bubbles and I only got an X-Box?”
This, I’ve decided, is the root
of my parental judgment. I’ve made a parenting choice that differs from someone
else’s, and I have to explain it to my kids.
No child goes home and
complains, “Why did she get bubbles and I only got an X-Box?” If they do, return
the X-Box, buy some bubbles, and call it a parenting win.
But when my kid comes home
asking why her friend got something amazing for Easter and she got sidewalk
chalk, it begins an entire dialogue about being appreciative for what we have. She’ll
nod in agreement, but I see her disappointment. This is the part that makes me
Am I too cheap? I can afford to
buy them the X-Box. I choose not to buy it, or anything that costs more than a
couple bucks. My kids have a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, an
exceptional school district and the promise to attend college on us. I fill their days with
experiences that do often cost money,
like trips to the zoo.
So no, kid, you did not get an
X-Box, but you have it pretty good.
Still, I sometimes worry that
when my kids are grown, they’ll think back to their childhood holidays and
birthdays and say to each other, “Our parents were such cheap pricks.”
I recognize all this internal
back-and-forth pales in comparison to the inner dialogue of a parent who
scrimped to afford the dollar-store toys. I remind myself to be appreciative
for what I have, hit the dollar store for my kids, and use the money I didn’t
spend on their baskets to buy another little girl, who has less than mine, a new
Then, I’ll do my best not to judge whatever is in your kid’s
Easer basket. I just hope you’ll return the favor and not think I’m too cheap
for what I didn’t put in mine.