Aside from the obvious Christian ties, modern-day Easter and Christmas intrigue the hell out of me.
First, and sometimes not-so-obvious to some is the correlation with the solar calendar. Christmas is at the Winter Solstice - marking the beginning of a new year, while Easter is around the Spring Equinox which celebrates the life-giving season. As I have not done an exhaustive Wikipedia read on this, I will leave the remaining correlations related to solar rituals to the vetted 13 year-olds doing the writing on that site.
Second, both holidays have split personalities. Part of this, I'm sure, hearkens back to the reason of the solar calendar correlation, but I'm sure it was never intended for each holiday to have parents place their children on oddly dressed pedophiles' laps for a fear-stricken, tear-soaked photograph.
Each holiday's secular facade has a character that enters into a person's house while everyone is asleep. He drops off a few gifts (sometimes hiding them in nooks and crannies, other times placing them in socks and under lighted plants), eats, probably watches a little porn, and then is off to the next house. Again, the parents are totally cool and reassuring about this.
I grew up with these men sneaking into our home and slipping our freak-out barking dog a mickey. Them and the creepy-ass tooth fairy (who I can only imagine as also being a man with a beer gut and chest hair) who didn't keep his ick-factor in the living room, but instead came in and touched the pillow my head was on!! EWWW!!
Nonetheless, I was in enamored with each character. I loved that they would bother to come to my house to bring gifts. I would write them each letters thanking them for their selfless deeds - and then PLEADING with them to be my pen-pals during the rest of the year. I was always greeted with presents and a note the following morning. I remember loving to read these letters - the connection to the mystery. And being hurt that they were too busy to write during the other times of the year. Oh well. The subsequent sugar high healed those wounds.
Of course, the cynicism of these events and their related characters are purely from adulthood. As a child, I knew my parents trusted these folks to come into our house, so it was ok. I learned - especially in Santa's case - that the joy of giving a gift is knowing that the recipient feels loved, and not in receiving "credit" for giving the gift. My parents never gave us Christmas gifts that I remember. Their gift to us was "letting Santa in." Mind you, we had plenty of opportunity to thank family members for gifts received.
I think that selflessness is worth its weight in gold - especially in this age of instantaneous reward.
I, as well as many other parents, struggle with a balance of lessons. How high do we build these characters up in order to be found out down the road? To this day, my mom still skirts the question when asked if these characters are real. The magic and innocent joy, the selflessness, is real.
My 6 month old is too young to fight sleep (well, because of excitement) the night before Easter or beg for a fictional pen pal, but this issue will come to a head soon enough.
Every day, every single day, we moms are looking at our children's experiences as life lessons. It is way too easy to over think, and not live in the moment. I hope each of you enjoyed your Easter/Spring Equinox with your children - and that they continue to remind you of the magic of finding an Easter egg or flower or bug.
Happy Monday, Ladies!!