Yes, it's Easter weekend and I am officially giving myself permission to have fun!
I often struggle with this particular holiday, and yep, today I'm going to explain the full 9 yards of why this holiday and I have issues and how I aim to fix it this year. It's kind of personal so if you're not into hearing about my silly dysfunctional childhood family today, definitely go check out my other posts on Express Your Love.
Yes, my issues with Easter stem from my childhood. My mother would go overboard every Easter with giant baskets, creative scavenger hunt, and, when we were really small, even new cute white dresses for me and my sisters.
Unfortunately as we got older, this holiday became more and more chaotic, more and more guilt and resentment attached to every action or reaction until it felt like I was wading into a mine field as I searched for those stupid chocolate filled eggs.
The last Easter my old family was fully together, James was just six weeks old, I was at an all time hormonal high and just on the crashing point of PPD, so very, very sensitive. I was hoping that Easter would be a fun memory, but it was unfortunately one of the worst.
So, it's understandable that I have issues with Easter. For the last five years I've tried to ignore Easter. I wished it would go away. I wished everyone would just stop making such a big deal about this holiday. Do we HAVE to hunt eggs? Do we HAVE to make a basket? Can I not just stick my head under my pillow and let this whole holiday blow over?
Digging into my feelings about it, I mostly feel that to get into it, to go over-the-top, and make it really FUN would be to risk being like my mother.
I would make a giant mess, I would whine for help to clean it up, I would make everyone in the house suffer for what I had ultimately decided to do. Instead of fun, I would be tired and pissed off and feel unappreciated through the whole thing, which would ultimately make everyone feel edgy and unsure of what to say or do. Not fun at all.
That is, after all, what I saw and heard from my mother every single year.
But this year has already been all about learning new habits and moving towards happiness with a single minded, focused intention and expressing my love as openly and honestly as I possibly can.
I'm ready for these Easter scars on my heart to heal and disappear. I'm ready to like Easter again, but more importantly, to DO IT RIGHT.
I want to go overboard! I want to make everyone a special basket! I want to have the Easter party James described with balloons and streamers and party hats and special cookies! I want to give in to Easter and put on a show that we all remember happily for the whole year.
But through it all, I WANT TO HAVE FUN! I don't want this to be torture! I want this to be an awesome experience!
It's just so great that I've read the Happiness Project two times now and I know that creating a really happy experience takes 4 steps:
1. Anticipate - James and I have planned our party together and I even pulled out a cookie mix we're going to make together. We've talked about it every day - what we're going to do, how it's going to go, what to expect through each part of our Easter party. Anticipating and planning it together has been tons of fun because we've allowed our imagination to build up the experience as super fun and exciting.
2. Savor - Yesterday we painted magnets together to go in the Easter baskets. This could easily have been a "grind it out" sort of experience where I rush James through the project and feel irritated at the lack of perfection of his painting. Instead we took the painting kits outside for another picnic in the front yard and managed to paint most of the projects before coming in for dinner.
3. Express - At the party itself, we need to express our happiness often. It's easy to get into a mode of hostess and forget to stop for a hug and a reminder of "I'm having so much fun!" but this is an important step. James often stops us in the middle of a meal with an announcement of "This is a wonderful dinner so let's give ourselves a hand!" Experiencing the full joy of clapping and cheering for other women at Sew South made me realize just how important expressing happiness is for the moment itself.
4. Recall - We need to take loads of photos of this party, the egg hunt, the basket hunt so we can recall this great day. Having happy memories to recall of a solidly good Easter will help blot out all the other less-savory holidays.
Does all this seem like a lot of work? Yeah, but it's been fun, real, true, solid fun because I DECIDED to have fun with it every step of the way.
So much of life, I'm finding, is about attitude and perspective. I can be heavy and tired and dragged down by the long list of things to do to prepare, or I can be excited and enthusiastic and ready to have fun.
More and more I'm learning that this is a responsibility. I am responsible for my own happiness. No one can do it for me, but by choosing to be happy, I can make the people I love the most happier as well.
Following the Happiness Project has taught me that I LIKE to go overboard. I want to make a party with balloons and streamers and Easter baskets for everyone. I want to take loads of pictures and clap and cheer and smile my face off.
And ultimately what I'm learning this year is a simple fact I probably knew all along: good does not have to come with bad.
But in order to have 100% good time, you have to CHOOSE it and work for it. Doing something to make yourself happier will not always make you FEEL happy at the time.
Painting in the sun yesterday, I got both hungry and tired and when we came in, I began to channel my mother a bit when it came to cleaning up the house. I began to snapping and even yelling when James kept jumping on the couch as I tried to move it.
Waking up this morning, I realized I need a reminder to stay light, to stay focused on fun, and to make sure I remembered the price of negativity before I made a wrong choice. It is a responsibility, my happiness, my family's happiness, that I must not take for granted. So I made this funny label:
It reads "Certified SAFE! No Babies Cried in the Creation of this Easter Basket. ~ guaranteed by mgmt. Leah Day"
Making this label took only a few minutes, but every time I look at it, I smile. It's a gentle reminder to myself to be nice - that whatever I'm doing it's not worth the tears of my family.
So with that in mind, I made another one for dinner:
I might end up making labels for every holiday or event in the year!
Now when it comes to holidays, another key of happiness I've just learned is flexibility. James went to bed with a snotty nose and we all woke up this morning feeling under the weather.
No party will be fun while we have a cold, and our family won't appreciate getting sick, so we've decided to postpone our Easter for next week. Because James and I have anticipated this event so much, another week of planning will only make it that much more fun.
It might even give me a chance to sew up a new dress or skirt for the occasion!
So that is my resolution for this year. I'm giving myself permission to have fun, and I'm taking on the responsibility for my happiness on this special day. Here's to a very Happy Easter!
Let's go have fun,