Saturday, March 26, 2016


I was driving home from the store earlier. I had the radio on and I heard a ToysRUs commercial, proclaiming, "Children are making a list of what they want for Easter...", or something to that effect. It kind of stopped me in my rambling thoughts.

When the hell did Easter become a "making a list of what I want" holiday? 

Now, please keep in mind, I have been totally guilty of indulging such a sentiment. There was a time when life was good, and I went completely off the deep end of sanity into, "How big an Easter basket can I accomplish?" One year, I actually went so far as to forego the basket and I went straight for a giant Rubbermaid tub. That sucker was filled with candy, Cheez Doodles, chips, cookies, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, Lego sets, DVDs, jumpropes, pool toys, bathing suits, stuffed animals, animated toys, kiddie jewelry, kites, craft kits...

I needed my head examined.

The years following, the economy took a dive and business wasn't so lucrative, so I had no choice but to curb my obsession with building the biggest, fullest pile of gifts, and return to some semblence of earthly reality. I'm not sure if I would have seen the error of my ways had I not been forced to, but I'm grateful for the lesson, no matter the method of learning it.

For me, it is no longer an issue. The kids are older, the Easter bunny makes his way to the homes of much younger kids, and I no longer have to chomp on the carrots left out, to give the impression that someone had stopped by to nibble on them. I know that lots of moms and dads make baskets for their older kids, as I had for my oldest. I used to fill his basket with toiletries, and music, and maybe a t-shirt or two. But times are a little tougher right now. The oldest is on his own and married, and this year, the two youngest are with the ex for the holiday. I am totally taking advantage of that and leaving Easter baskets up to daddy dearest. My middle son has no concept of holiday expectations, or at least none his autism will allow him to express. But my girl...she still has hopes for something special. 

At 13, she understands what's real and what's not. She is also aware of our financial restraints. I wish she wasn't, but there are so many times I have to say "no", to pretty much every luxury, there is really no hiding it from her. But sometimes, I really have to just say "Screw groceries!", and do something special for my kids. I'm not planning on spending ALL the food money. I'm not doing anything extravagant or wasteful. The girl is at a stage where she is all about spending time with her friends, and God help us, that involves lots of time at the mall. I was reminded on my Facebook page of a teeny bopping Robin Sparkles, in all her 80s leg warmer glory, bouncing around and inviting all her friends to "Let's go to the mall!" The makers of How I Met Your Mother hit that nail on its adorably hat covered head. Yes. That is my girl and her friends. Minus the leg warmers. And the hat. But she often has to wander with her cronies without a penny in her pocket. So now, for every occasion that offers the potential for a gift, her request is cash. From pretty much anyone who will ask. But from me, for Easter, she asked for a Starbucks gift card. Yes. She is 13 and drinks coffee. As a child of mine, it's a miracle it took her this long. But most of what she orders at Starbucks is some kind of fru fru specialty drink, which is more milk and all kinds of sugar and whipped cream than coffee. And it will keep her in a section of the mall that has outlets for phone chargers, and she doesn't have to be the only one in the group who can't buy one of the fru fru specialty drinks. At least for spring break. 

So instead of asking my girl to make a list of what she wants for Easter, she simply made one request, and I think eating pasta a few nights this week will be worth letting her feel like a kid who is NOT being told "no" for every damned thing. A $25 gift card should keep her in macchiatos from Monday to Friday, right? And $25 is a whole lot less than past Easter baskets have cost. And for the boy, I have gotten wise. It doesn't matter to him if I take bags of his usual snacks right out of the kitchen cabinet and wrap them with a bow, he is simply happy to have them. One of the many blessings of autism. 

So the only thing left to worry about is, how will ToysRUs ever recover from my return to sanity? Honestly, it may not be too hard on their bottom line...there are still lots of folks out there who are still in the "who has the biggest pile of gifts" contest. Geoffrey is probably safe, for now.