Holidays, there are a many of them and each has its own commercialized aspect. That statement is not an indictment. Holidays have long been commercialized. Who hasn’t received a Charlie Brown valentine or participated in a Saint Patrick’s Day bar crawl?
Recently, though, I decided that commercialized consumption of said holidays wasn’t enough… that if my kids are going to be a part of this culture then they should at least learn the basis of the holidays in question. I assumed that my children could glean some truly wonderful lessons from these fundamental beginnings. Lessons about giving, sacrifice, love… frightening people for candy. You know, all of the things that make a child well-rounded.
It turns out that Valentine’s Day may not have been the best place to start. You can imagine the conversation while driving:
“Boys, it’s important to remember the meaning of the holiday, not just the candy.”
“Dad, why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?”
I had no idea, so I diverted the question, “We are celebrating the life of Saint Valentine.” Sounds legit, right?
“Who’s Saint Valentine?”
Thank God for Wikipedia and smart phones (at a stoplight, of course). “He was someone who loved God very much a long time ago.” Nice save, if I do say so myself.
“Were they dating?’
Confounded “Uh, no, why?”
“Well, I heard that Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers…”
“Hey, kids, do you see those puppies over there?!” And daddy is done.
The lesson has been rendered, and it was an important one — for me. As the parent, I do not need to make everything a useful lesson.
As they say, pick your battles. Sometimes it is necessary to let them just have fun.
But if you demand that your children know the meaning behind something then you’d better remember to research it first.
To my children, I now say: “Go, have fun, exchange your Valentine’s, and if anyone gives you Reese’s Peanut Butter Hearts you may want to hide them from your mother.”
Chris Donnelly is married with four children. You can read him every Thursday on momaha.com
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