Photo courtesy of Jamie Kenney

Face It: Putting Money In Your Easter Baskets Is Messed Up

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Easter is coming and with it my feelings about Easter which, like so many adorable baby chicks, are warm and fuzzy. Well, for the most part. Because while I'm over here trying to have a good time I know that some of you out there are attempting to take away my beloved holiday, in a manner of speaking. I'll cut to the chase: putting money in your easter baskets is messed up and I really wish you'd stop.

To be fair, this is me at my most cranky. If you like putting cold hard cash in an Easter basket, so be it, especially if it's part of some long-standing tradition that connects you to fond memories of childhood. In the grand scheme of "Things People Do," this is so far down on the list of egregiousness that it basically doesn't matter. But someone mentioned it to me the other day and since I'm on the internet I'm going to shout into the abyss and make a thing of this thing because that is how the internet works.

I'm not religious, for the record, and haven't been in a long time. So aside from loving the hell out of Jesus Christ Superstar, the Christian aspect of Easter isn't what draws me to this celebration. But I grew up Catholic and grew into a hippie, so between nostalgia and my love of the turning of the seasons, I'm here for it. I love the aesthetic, which is undeniably part pop culture, part paganism. Ancient symbols of a fertile spring (rabbits, eggs, flowers ) are sold in neon pink marshmallow and malted chocolate forms. It's simultaneously primal and kitsch and all wonderful. And as with all holidays, Easter has become even better since having kids, because it's incredible to share traditions and culture with someone you love so much. The pièce de résistance, of course, is the Easter basket, and here we get to the crux of the matter.

EvgeniiAnd/Fotolia

You know what's acceptable to put into an Easter Basket? Seasonal candy! Jelly beans, Robin's Eggs, chocolate bunnies, Peeps, those peanut butter eggs that are so full of peanut butter. You know what? Even regular candy is totally acceptable, if that's what you prefer. And if you don't want to give your kids ultra processed sugar, go ahead and put a tasty, organic baked good in their basket! Want to skip sweets all together? Again, totally fine! You can go with any number of delightful, small, springtime-y toys that haven't been usable for the past several, dreary months, like bubbles, those bouncy balls they keep in cages at the grocery store, sidewalk chalk, a jump rope, a kite. Or maybe you want them to really connect with nature and get them little garden tools and seeds that they can watch grow. Or a book! A book is always appropriate! Or maybe your child is like mine and truly adores small stuffed toys? In that case, you could get a holiday themed item!

Point is, you guys, I am giving you awesome, simple, ideas for Easter, and none of them are cash. The only green one should see in an Easter basket is that plastic grass (actually, don't put that in, either, because it gets everywhere and is so bad for the environment).

Giving money in an Easter basket is tacitly saying, "I owe you a gift, so here you go," and you do not owe anyone a gift on Easter.

"Why no cash?" you ask, growing impatient. "Don't you like money?" Dude. I love money. In fact, if anyone wants to give me money I will happily accept it with a thank you and a curtsy. I even like money as a gift on, say, Christmas or my birthday. You see, Christmas and birthdays are both established, gift-giving holidays and, sometimes, money is the perfect gift. But Easter, like Valentine's Day, for example, is a token exchanging holiday, and there's a difference. A difference, I tell you! And, like Valentine's Day, Easter is edging ever-closer to a kind of Christmas Jr., gift-giving holiday because people can't just leave well-enough alone.

Tokens can be thoughtful, but they don't have to be particularly well-thought out. They're just fun little items to add to a pretty chill celebration. They certainly shouldn't be outlandishly priced. Giving money in an Easter basket is tacitly saying, "I owe you a gift, so here you go," and you do not owe anyone a gift on Easter. That's not how Easter works. I hate it. I find it crass, commercial, and yet another example of people making a thing of something that really shouldn't be a thing.

Aleksei Potov/Fotolia

Indeed, all holidays seem to be morphing into some kind of hellscape for those of us who would prefer everything to be low-key. Don't get me wrong: if you like holidays do it up. You should see the hoopla I make of Halloween, because it's my favorite and decking out my home in plastic bat skeletons and human skulls for a solid month and a half brings me joy. But do it up within the confines of what the holiday actually is, i.e. don't make a token-exchanging holiday a gift-giving holiday just because you have to one-up last year or something. And certainly don't do it out of a sense of obligation! I don't care if your sister is giving all the nieces and nephews gifts this year, because this is not a thing! Give them a chocolate bunny like you always do. They'll be delighted. Do not buy into other people trying to make Easter a gift holiday.

We have gift giving holidays already, people, so let's leave them where they belong and focus all our Easter energy on dopey but adorable tokens that remind us that everything is coming back to life and baby animals are being born.

This is my problem with cash in Easter baskets. It's buying in to a trend (no pun intended) of making every holiday something we have to spend a certain amount of money on for it to "count" (and that number seems to be going up every year). And I feel like more and more people are doing it because they feel like they should, not because they actually want to.

We have gift giving holidays already, people, so let's leave them where they belong and focus all our Easter energy on dopey but adorable tokens that remind us that everything is coming back to life and baby animals are being born. We should celebrate by eating tiny chocolate and marshmallow versions of all those baby animals. No cash gift required.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.