My mom still makes us Easter baskets. I’m the youngest child and I’m going to be 25 this year, and she still makes us Easter baskets. I have told her that we’re all adults now and she doesn’t need to keep doing this, but she insists that she must.
Now, before you get the wrong idea and think that we were helpless, coddled children who did nothing for ourselves, I would just like to point out that one year my mom decided she wasn’t going to make our lunches for school anymore and so we had to start making our own. Totally reasonable. Except that this decision was made for all three of us at the same time, and while my sister was in grade seven I was only in grade three.
So yeah, my mom still makes us Easter baskets, but I also started making my own lunch when I was eight years old.
Anyway, we’re kind of big on holiday traditions in my family. At least I am. I have probably always been the most enthusiastic about carrying out our traditions, but I wasn’t always alone. It’s just that everyone else has matured past their need for everything to be exactly the same every year, and I might never reach that point.
Did I mention we’re kind of into tradition?
For as long as I can remember we’ve all had our own specific Easter baskets, and even now that we’re grown up and the other two have moved out, my mom still checks with me to remind her which basket belongs to whom. This was the scenario on Saturday afternoon when, all of a sudden, my eyes landed on a basket I didn’t recognize.
My first thought… who is this interloper basket and where did it come from!? My second thought…oh but it’s so cute! And my third thought…I kind of hope it doesn’t belong to anyone because I want it.
“Hey mom, where did that basket come from? It’s so nice and Easter-y!”
“It’s yours. Don’t you remember?”
“I bought it for you last year but you didn’t want it because –“
And then I remembered! As you can probably imagine, when you have a daughter who can’t eat any chocolate, jelly beans, or other such traditional Easter treats, it can be a challenge knowing what to put in her Easter basket and so to compensate for the fact that tic tacs are just not as exciting as mini eggs, my mom thought I might enjoy a pretty new basket. I, however, was not on board with this. Quite the opposite, I was shocked that she tried to tamper with tradition and last Easter I was rather dismayed to find that my basket, the basket I had been using my entire life, was nowhere to be seen.
Fast forward a year and there I was, delighted by this pretty basket that was apparently mine.
Phew! 500 words of backstory for a basket that lives in the crawlspace and gets at most 48 hours of stage time a year. Let’s get to the point now, shall we?
I’ve written a lot about giving change a chance and being open to new ideas, and that definitely could be applied here, but I’m actually going to take this in another direction.
When I dismissed the new basket last year, my mom didn’t take it personally that I didn’t love her idea. She let me be. And when all of a sudden I was all for it this year, she went with that, too. She laughed at me, as did I, but she didn’t get all high and mighty about it. There was no, “I told you so!” Now, I realize we are talking (in a lot of depth) about an Easter basket, which is just not something worth getting high and mighty about, but let’s take a step back.
I have received so much unsolicited medical advice over the years therefore I know how frustrating and annoying it is to constantly field good intentions that look and sound a whole lot like unhelpful and irrelevant suggestions. And yet, I still find myself doing it to other people. My first instinct is often to skip past listening lane and start straight down problem solving street. This isn’t just unique to health problems. We’ve all been there, on both the giving and receiving end, countless times in our lives.
I do believe that much of the time it comes from a genuine place of care and concern. We want to help alleviate each other’s struggles. We want to be useful. But sometimes, I think the most helpful thing we can do is just listen and then let each other be. I have definitely thought, “I don’t understand why they won’t try this…why don’t they just take my suggestion?” but the thing is, everything looks simpler and more straightforward when we’re looking at it from the outside in. We can say, “If it were me…” all we want, but unless we’re the ones in the middle of it, we have no idea how tangled and complicated a situation really is.
In our own lives, we come around when we’re ready. We try new things when we feel steady and grounded enough to do so. We reach acceptance on our own timelines.
And we have to let other people do the same. We can always listen and offer encouragement along the way, but there are times when we need to step back and give each other space to figure things out.
Sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is just be there. Quietly. And trust that it will all work out okay.
And if that doesn’t work you could try buying someone a nice basket…however success is not guaranteed!