Easter egg hunts.
Over the last three years my kids have been involved in a few easter egg hunts. The most terrifying I think was a local comnunity "egg hunt" that consisted of a penned in circle of grass with candy strewn all over it and some kind of parent led fight to the death over said candy. All the other egg hunts have at least involved eggs and some form of hunting. Some have put a limit on the number of eggs each child could collect, to make it fair, but still there is a feel of not a lot more than the importance of personal gain.
Halloween trick or treating.
Last year I wanted to have a small hunt in our garden for the kids, but didn't want it to be just a rush to see who could get the most for themselves, so came up with the idea of labelling up the eggs with the first letter of the child's name, so the kids had the same number of eggs each, just like in the egg hunts that put a limit on the number you could keep, but this time it meant that the whole hunt took on more of a team effort. You found an egg, you read the letter, determined who that egg belonged to, ran to them and gave it to them to go in their basket. This way the hunt wasn't finished for anyone until the very last egg had been found and given to the appropriate owner. It was everyone's responsibility to help find all the eggs.
This year we did it again with five kids, and it worked beautifully. The kids were really excited to give the egg to the right person. It was not that much more work to label up the eggs with the kid's initials either. I just did it with a sharpie pen. I'm dealing with kids between the ages of three and seven mostly, so it's a perfect age in that respect, because everyone knows their alphabet and requires no help in the hunt.
Two kids find an egg at the same time? Not a problem! They have to check it to see who it belongs to rather than fight over it. It might be for neither of them!
It also allows me to fill all the eggs with a range of toys and candies, making sure that each kid gets a bit of everything, rather than the pot luck of regular egg hunting, where one kid might end up with all the candy and another a pile of balloons or something.
Trick or treating was never a big thing for me when I was growing up. Sadly it was done mostly by teenagers in masks, who for one night a year could knock on old people's doors and demand money without being arrested for it. I am really really happy that my kids get to have the childcentric US version of this holiday. The only thing that kind of doesn't sit well with me, is again the focus on personal gain. Going from house to house and being given more and more and more of something that you don't even need. Maybe I'm being a bit too sensetive about it, but I thought it would feel a lot better if we went from house to house and had something to give back to the people that were giving us candy.
Last year the kids helped to make a huge batch of halloween themed sugar cookies, which we bagged up and each house that we trick or treated at, the kids would also offer the residents some cookies. I wanted the whole thing to have more of an atmosphere of exchanging rather than taking. This is something we will definately continue doing in the future. Some of the people we gave cookies to were more than a little surprised by the departure from the norm, but they were all pleasantly surprised by it, and I think we are able to get away with this sort of "oddness" a little more easily, as you can tell from our accents that we aren't from around here ;)
The first couple of years that we were in the US we were very kindly invited to the houses of some friends to experience a traditional American thanksgiving. We don't have this holiday in the UK of course, so we had no idea what was involved. The sweet potato with marshmallows melted on top was a bit of a shocker! Anyway, as the kids got older and our friend's kids all got older, it became more feasible for people to move around the country to be with family, so we found ourselves home alone on thanksgiving one year and weren't sure how to play it. I'm not one for traditional meal cooking (I think we had Christmas curry last year), so we figured it might be nice to just get out for a walk somewhere. This is how we started our thanksgiving lunch tradition of being sat on plastic shopping bags, whilst eating sandwiches in a damp forrest. Not sure how long the kids are going to indulge us on this one, but we'll see.
I'd love to hear in the comments what tweeks or changes you have made to traditional holidays for your families. Even odd adjustments that your parents or grandparents made that have now become your own family traditions themselves. That kind of stuff I love hearing about.
By the way, my five year old has started writing a sort of diary of her own volition. This page I think is the most awesomest pile of awesome!
She really does love making things! Whoooo!
And after seeing LiEr's hospital sock rabbits on Ikatbag earlier last week, I pulled out the pair that I was awarded just a week and a half ago and made one of them into a freaky looking chicken.
The chicken originally had twin chicks made from craft pompoms, but one has flown the nest it seems. I suspect it is in the dark depths of the foot well of the Nissan Dissapointment, probably freaking out because it's next to a decaying McNugget or something equally horrific.