Every year at Easter, no matter how busy I am, I've always dyed eggs and made up baskets and had an Easter egg hunt for my kids. Last year no one ate my pretty eggs (I would have, but they're one of the forbidden things on my diet) and the baskets sat around the house untouched for three months until I threw out the candy (also a no-no for me). One kid bowed out of the egg hunt; the other slogged through it like it was a punishment. All of this was a little depressing for me; I'm not a huge fan of Easter but I've always enjoyed the holidays through my kids and their happiness. Suddenly Easter had become a chore, not a celebration, and I realized it's because while I wasn't looking my kids have gone and grown up. They're both adults now and logically not interested in kid stuff anymore.
This year I made myself march past all the adorable stuffed bunnies, basket goodies and egg dye kits while I looked for more adult ways to celebrate the holiday. And there aren't any; Easter has become like Halloween -- all about the kids. I had to think of what I do for adult family and friends for holidays. I usually hand out gift cards for the market; everyone needs food and I feel like in a small way I'm contributing to their family celebrations. My nephew once told me the market gift card I send to him and his wife every Christmas is his favorite gift, so at least I'm doing that right.
That wasn't going to work for Easter. My kids don't need market gift cards; I do the shopping and the cooking so they have no use for them. What they do love is going out to eat; sometimes with their parental unit but mostly on their own or with friends.
A nice meal is a great gift for anyone, but as I stood in front of that rack of restaurant gift cards I waffled. I felt like I was giving the kids a gift that basically said, "Here. Go away and eat somewhere else." How personal and loving is that? Then I thought of it from the kids' POV. My daughter in particular loves to go out to dinner with her boyfriend; between school and work they don't get to see each other very often these days. Dinner out also = time alone together, and while they don't mind hanging out with us it gives them some private time. They're also both too cash-strapped to do it very often.
I shook off my qualms and bought the restaurant gift cards (presented in an Easter card along with one chocolate bunny, because I simply couldn't resist one mulish reminder of the old days) -- and they were a huge hit. The kids thanked me; my daughter's boyfriend thanked me, and they rushed out to use them, and when they came back, they thanked me again. For once I got it right.
As for not making Easter baskets, well, I cheated a little. My mom has been having a tough time getting through the holidays without Dad, so I made up one basket for her. I've never done that; I always send her flowers. And from her childlike delight in the basket, I didn't mess that up either.
Times change, people change, and the things we do have to change with them. It's tough letting go of traditions and testing yourself in new waters. Parents of children who are suddenly all grown up struggle with this in a million ways. We want things to stay the same because of all the happy memories we collect over the years. We want to hold onto that and have it forever. But we can't, and unless we want to reside by that river in Egypt, we have to let go and move on.
There's a lot of new out there to be discovered. I'm slowly getting up to speed on using the e-reader, although by the time I'm an expert I know the damn thing will probably be obsolete and I'll have to learn to use some other gadget. And I will, because most of my favorite authors and writer pals are publishing electronically now. Even my fiftieth novel, my big landmark book, will first be published as an e-book. I love print, and as long as I can buy it I'll stick to print, but I knew from the first time I saw a prototype e-reader back in 2001 that electronic publishing was coming in a big way. Now it's here, and I have to embrace the change . . . or move to Cairo and learn how to fish.
You youngsters out there won't understand how difficult this can be for your elders, but growing up my generation never had video games, Gameboys or any of those gadgets. Put it this way: I remember when handheld calculators and LED watches first came on the market; the first computer I worked on was the size of desk and didn't have a monitor; it printed out what I typed as I worked and I had to look at the paper to check my entries. Floppy disks were almost the size of record albums (the things music used to be recorded on before MP3s and CDs.) Telephones still had dials and were connected to heavy bases by short little curly cords. When I wrote a novel I typed it on my trusty Royal Academy with a bottle of white-out nearby for corrections. If I wanted to go somewhere I'd never been I used a paper map; if I wanted to write someone I put it on paper and mailed it with a stamp.
Before any of you youngsters sigh -- and I know this is like hearing Grandma grumble When I was in school I had to walk five miles through the snow . . . -- remember that without my generation yours wouldn't be here.
It does all sound a little fantastic now that it's all changed. I miss some of those things but I'm not afraid to put my stories in a word processor program, or e-mail, or use a GPS, or back up fifteen years of my work on a little stick drive. Three stick drives, actually; I don't trust the damn things.
Change can be bad or good or anything in between, but the one thing I've learned it never does is go away.
What changes are you struggling with? Let us know in comments.