While it may very well be true that everyone loves a parade, I wonder how much they’d really be appreciated if people had to live through the equivalent of a marching band, cheering squad, decorated floats, fireworks, cannons, confetti, costumes, cotton candy and fried dough in their living rooms all day, every day.
Surely any employee of the Magic Kingdom could answer that, but so, too, can members of my family. For nearly seven months we’ve been celebrating every possible red-letter day nonstop and somewhat against our will.
My daughter didn’t understand special occasions until her second birthday. Before then we showered her with all the appropriate embellishments on all the relevant dates, and what we always received in return were blank stares. But ever since last summer we have accumulated each passing holiday and now commemorate them collectively and continually virtually on a daily basis.
About a month before her birthday were the birthdays of three of her friends, at which time something finally clicked in her little mind. All of a sudden my daughter got that birthdays mean cake, presents, candles and being serenaded, and all of a sudden got how much she enjoys cake, presents, candles and being serenaded.
But what she didn’t quite comprehend — and still doesn’t — is that her birthday lasts for just one day. It didn’t help that we ate her leftover cake for about a week, which meant that each time she had another slice she expected a candle and a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
The balloons from her party have long since deflated, so she tries to grab one whenever possible in the checkout line at the supermarket. When the presents were all opened, she assumed, and continues to assume, that any box or envelope she stumbles upon are hers for the tearing.
“Big pwesent!” she squeals wide-eyed at the sight of a manila envelope.
To this day, she requires my husband to sing “Happy Birthday” to her and whichever doll or book accompanies her on the potty each morning.
By late September, Halloween was being observed in addition to her birthday. Her bumblebee costume arrived early, and five months later, she still hasn’t taken it off, although at this point, the wings and wand (yes, of course bumble bees carry wands) have seen better days. We’re still reading “Dora’s Halloween Adventure” at least twice daily. If we hadn’t hidden Barney’s “Halloween Party” DVD, there’s little doubt it would be permanently burned on our TV screen.
Between the trick-or-treating, apple picking and various local harvest fairs and festivals, I can’t really blame her for being enamored with the traditions of autumn. However, that doesn’t mean I want to see another candy corn or round orange squash ever again. She panics when we read “Cinderella,” midnight strikes and the coach turns back into a pumpkin. Not because it means the heroine might never see the Prince again, but because the pumpkin gets smashed during the transition.
“Oh no! It bwoke. Poor Halloween pu’kin,” she cries.
After Halloween was Thanksgiving, followed shortly thereafter by Hanukkah, which lasted not one, but 90 crazy nights and counting, as we’re still reading “My Very Own Dreidel” regularly. To this day she routinely wishes us a happy Hanukkah, as well as a happy Christmas and happy New Year. Both the dreidel song and “Jingle Bells” are sung with regularity by my daughter, generally over breakfast, but each have also been known to make it into the bath time medley.
Valentine’s Day was over two weeks ago, yet she’s still clutching the cards she received from her grandparents and cousins and insists on taking them all to bed, especially if they’re dripping with glitter.
Last Monday I could have sworn she was humming “Hail to the Chief.” I would worry about what Fat Tuesday will bring if she didn’t already go topless two hours before bedtime each night. There’s no doubt in my mind she’ll dig deep into the Irish part of her heritage and do a jig while hunting for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow on March 17.
On Friday night I made Shabbat dinner (thanks to a rush of Jewish pride I experienced following Charlie Sheen’s anti-Semitic rant), and after I said the blessing over the candles, she said, “Happy Hanukkah!” and tried to blow them out like birthday candles. Which was one step better, I think, than during Hanukkah, when she’d say, “Happy Birthday, Hanukkah!” each night after we lit the candles.
I worry a little that she’ll be disappointed when her birthday rolls around again and realizes we’re only celebrating a single occasion, but I suppose that’s nothing a cake decorated with images of hearts, ghosts, reindeer, latkes, shamrocks, American flags, fleur-de-lis, turkeys and Mt. Rushmore can’t fix.
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