Did anyone else have to deal with this this year? There seems to have been a “Christmas creep,” for lack of a better term, among friends and family members when it comes to Easter. In other words, it’s becoming more and more a gift-giving occasion rather than a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. When my son was much younger, my wife and I were criticized for “going overboard” with what he got in his basket (candy, eggs and about $15 worth of toys in our most extravagant year), but that pales in comparison to what other people got our kids this year. It’s hardly worth mentioning next to what some people I know got their kids (including video game systems, an iPhone, and one guy who got all four of his kids iPads).
More and more, I think our annual Easter celebration is getting to be an opportunity to make us stand out from the crowd. We’ve been trying to keep our finances in check, but there’s an expectation that we engage in what everyone else does. I don’t mind letting the kids take part in the Easter egg hunt, but the cost keeps going up each year. Everyone’s expected to bring a set number of filled eggs for each kid you’re going to have participate. The number of eggs goes up each year, and the amount others are are spending on it has been going up as well. We don’t put anything too expensive in our eggs (just candy), but we spent almost as much this year on the eggs as we did for all our kids’ baskets combined (anymore, we do a little candy, eggs and $5-8 worth of little gifts for each kid). We didn’t take part in the gift exchange this year, which I think may have upset some people. Everyone spent about $10-20 per kid/couple on gifts, which was simply out of the question for us. Had we done so, between our family Easter, pictures with the bunny, the egg hunt and gifts, it would have been the same as spending more than half our Christmas budget for the kids. As it is, between all that, the amount we had to spend on gas to visit the family and the amount I gave to our church, we’ve had to put off our Easter dinner with my mother-in-law until next month (it’s also not anything extravagant, but it’s beyond our means at the moment).
I get the feeling that the family will really frown on any suggestions to cut back next year, but I’m considering bringing it up before then. I don’t know that they’d be in full agreement with me wanting to focus more on the true meaning of the day, but I’d much rather have my kids thinking about the reasons behind Holy Week instead of complaining that they didn’t get an X-Box in their basket.