October 11, 2009

Holidays: Happiness or Hype?

“Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!”
--Amanda Bradley

Are your kids apathetic to most holidays? Mine are. If it's not a birthday or Christmas, they don't care that much. I used to really get into Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, etc., but I seemed to be the only one. It became a chore, devoid of all fun, so I stopped. Yet, I feel like I'm depriving them in some way by not forcing them to participate more.

Then I think, why should I feel badly? I'm not telling them they can't celebrate holidays. I'm just not pushing it on them anymore. One can't walk into a grocery store or mall without huge displays that scream at you: "There is a holiday coming!" If they aren't swayed by the consumerist propaganda; isn't that a good thing?

I can't pretend that over the last couple of years, as our financial situation has gotten tighter, that my views on holidays haven't changed a bit. Maybe I am a little bit annoyed at all the hype. Still, I'm not convinced that that's a bad thing. I want my kids to have fond childhood memories of holiday celebrations, but I can't see how forcing them to send valentines or go trick or treating is the right way to go about it. Which led me to ask this question:
Do holidays promote happiness?

From what I've read on happiness in the past year, I don't think they do. All the emphasis is on the wrong things. I'm not sure what we are going to do for Halloween this year. I'm more interested in Funny Girl's birthday on November 1st. She wants Backyardigans cupcakes with pink icing. I can't wait!


  1. I battle with this a lot. I remember the holiday hype fondly, my husband does not. We've never made a big deal out of any of the traditional holidays -- even in our pre-atheist days.

    Nowadays, we celebrate the kids birthdays, and Darwin Day is THE major event in our yearly calendar, but that's it. It's never been an issue. The boys are happy and well-adjusted, and don't miss what they've never really experienced.

    I'm the one that feels a little bad when a major holiday rolls around, because I worry that I'm not giving my kids the childhood memories that I have. But that's my baggage -- they're making great childhood memories of their own, not reserved to any particular day!

  2. Our son loves Halloween, Yule and Christmas, and my husband and I both have fond memories of them, so we definitely get into it here.

    But the parts of it that make me and the hubby happy (spending extra time together and with our son) are a little different than what makes our son happy (candy and gifts).

    Ahhh, but hopefully, as we stress the importance of family (and our personal spiritual ideals about living in harmony with the earth), our son will learn that these are the important things; not the material "joys".

  3. I don't believe in "commercial holidays" - Valentine's Day being a supreme example of those. We made a pact not to exchange presents on any days except birthdays, Christmas and our wedding day. My favorite holiday is actually Thanksgiving, because I think it has a special meaning that wasn't as commercialized as others.

  4. Beta- That's what I want too. Everyday should be celebrated!

    Wendy-I love how you love Halloween. If I was as into as you are..well it's just very cool! I was well into adulthood before I figured out what was important about holidays. I hope my kids get it sooner than I did.

    Raising a Happy Child- Exactly! We do presents on birthdays and Christmas. There is always something on Easter, but it's not much.