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Happiness Isn’t Measured in Glitter

By Jana Cunningham

As I browsed through Instagram and Facebook this past St. Patrick’s Day, my feed was littered with photos and videos of green pancakes, green milk, green beaded necklaces, green decorations covered in green glitter and green gifts, as if it was Christmas. Although I found this strange (because until that moment, I had no idea St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated this way), I was most shocked by the elaborate leprechaun traps and the staged mischief (footprints made out of construction paper, toilet water dyed green, green writing on the walls, etc.) this little guy got into.  

Three short years ago before I became a parent, I had no idea how many hours I would need to dedicate to ensure my child felt the magic of every holiday, including St. Patrick’s Day, apparently. Halloween is no longer about school parades and trick-or-treating, it’s a month-long celebration with festivals, corn mazes, over-priced pumpkins, endless crafts, parties, and trunk-or-treating. Valentine’s Day isn’t about bringing a paper-wrapped shoe box to school to collect store-bought cards, it’s about expensive home-made cards with tulle and glitter, daily love notes taped to the door, heart-shaped everything and ornate boxes with engines and AI features. (I may be exaggerating, but you get my point.)

I’m not saying that some of these activities aren’t fun – our local park puts on an adorable over-the-top Easter Egg hunt each year that I love to attend. However, it’s the pressure to participate in all of the activities, the pressure to spend my paycheck at Michaels on craft supplies and the pressure to make everything memorable just so I can forget to tape love notes on my daughter’s door that leaves me feeling like a failure.

In the age of social media, it’s easy to get caught up on what we “should” be doing to make holidays special. It’s easy to forget that some parents are naturally crafty and enjoy doing these sorts of things, but there are also parents who run to grocery store after work on Valentine’s Day and frantically search for the last remaining mini mylar balloon – who cares if it says “I Love You, Dad,” toddlers can’t read. The latter are the posts we don’t see on Instagram.

It’s the greatest feeling in the world to see your child experience something new and magical and it doesn’t matter if it comes from an expertly crafted Easter Egg basket that shoots glitter filled with hand painted Faberge eggs or a store-bought cleaning bucket filled with pink plastics eggs. Each one is memorable and fun. We all have different parenting styles and levels of craftiness and hopefully our kids will appreciate that – and hopefully we can appreciate it in each other as well.

So, whether you trapped a leprechaun this year or did absolutely nothing, remember your child’s happiness isn’t measured in glitter.