I've had some thoughts recently about separating the secular from the non-secular on holidays. They are not thoughts in reaction to anything that I observed in your life, read on your blog, or heard about you behind your back (mmm-hmm), etc. Ok? We cool?
Last Christmas I felt somewhat 'blah'. At the end of the season, my good friend asked me why I thought that was, and without thinking about it I replied, "It was too non-secular."
I think many of us (je included) might have gone too far with the 'presents are bad,' 'Reason for the Season' movement. Why? Why are presents bad? What's wrong with, I don't know, actually celebrating Christmas on the actual day of Christmas? Can a few thoughtful gifts really turn your heart away from the Savior on Christmas Day? If so, I think the problem lies not with our observances, but with the nature of our testimonies. Isn't it a great idea to add religion to the gift-giving part of the holiday? Wouldn't adding some holy perspective only serve to temper the rampant materialism in our society? Huh?
If we give presents on Christmas Day will children truly grow into adults who think that the holidays are first and foremost about iPods and clothes? For reals? What kind of parent raises a child like that? What's going on the rest of the year in that family to reinforce that belief?
What's wrong with kids getting jazzed up about presents? They are kids, that's what they do. You grab their attention with flash, then you teach them what they need to know. You show me an 18 month old who will sit through a Bible tale where pictures, funny voices, and a liberal hand with fishy crackers aren't involved. You show me that child.
And now I learn that giving children Easter baskets on Easter is heathen. Pourquoi? I loved Easter baskets as a child. I thought they were boss. It was a Sunday and we got candy and some novelty knick-knacks. Suh-weet. That never happened any other Sunday of the year. Heck, that never happened any other time during the year. And then I realized it was so because of a religious event. Double cool. Toys because of something church related? Yes, ma'am. I'm there. And then we got to wear new dresses and eat even more candy once we got to church. And then we would get even more Easter candy from our grandmas and I thought, 'Hey, they must be cool since they're in on this Easter thing.' Who lost in that situation?
And then I grew up and I get it now and I'm fine. I don't need candy and toys, but, boy-howdy, they do make me happy. Super happy. The giving and receiving of bounty makes everyone happy. Can't we be happy on the holidays? I'm not talking about hootin' and hollerin' happy on Easter Sabbath, but surely we aren't saying that a decent amount of joyous happiness is a bad thing (scripture quote, I win). Surely.
This is my point -- Human beings have two natural forms of celebration. Ok, human beings have three natural forms of celebration, but on this family-oriented blog (and since I have yet to 'know' a man) we're only going to talk about two of them -- eating and giving. Seeing candy around the holiday sends a message to my brain that says, 'Hey-o! Something special is about to happen! Can-day!' And then people send me cards and I think, 'They remembered me!' And then I get gifts and treats and cards ready for other people because I want them to know that I love them and that I remembered them, and because being generous with what I have is a natural outcome of thinking about the awesome significance behind Christmas and Easter.
And on Easter I like candy and toys because they are two of the finest things in life and they make me immensely happy, which only adds to my feelings of joy that I've had the chance to participate in this wonderful plan and enjoy the bounty of mortality and the promises of eternity while being surrounded by people that I like/love. So many days aren't awesome. Christmas and Easter are like freebies. 'Advance to Go. Grab some candy on your way. Eat delicious food until you're sick. Watch your kids play intensely with their new toys all day. Retell the same family stories you tell every year. Laugh until you can't breathe.'
So, what's next? Can we not celebrate birthdays on birthdays? Should we do all the present stuff the day before, then mark the actual day with solemn remembrances and zero fun? Sorry, did I miss the part when we turned scary-Quaker? When smiles became bad? When the laughter and joy of children became a damning offense? When, when, oh, Israel? When did this happen?
Up next: My sister can only take store-bought pre-packaged goods to my niece's and nephew's schools (right, because that's a safe bet). Listen, people, I don't want to live in this kind of world.