One thing you need to know about Americans is that they don't do things by halves. They will always go that extra mile, and usually by car.
If I had to give America a motto it would be 'Be All That You Can Be, Or Die Trying'. I can imagine America saying "thanks Ali, and here's your motto 'shut up'".
Got a gift that needs wrapping? In England we'll just about remember to scratch off the price tag. Over here they'll wrap it, cover it ribbons and bows, put it in a gift bag with tissue paper, and then attach a card and smaller present tied on (with ribbons) to the gift bag.
Call me cynical, but nothing embodies this mantra more than holidays. I've already beaten the 'land of the free*' *except for free time horse to death on this blog, but having just been through Valentines, followed by St. Patricks, and now Easter it seems there is a collective delusion that if we celebrate a holiday it'll actually feel like we had some time off work - instead of just adding more shit to do.
I'll apologize in advance for the negative tone of this post, but it's 5am and I have a mental hurricane of a LOTTD (list of things to do) that is exploding out of my ears and preventing sleep.
Fortunately Anna's school doesn't take a hard line on festivities. We made Valentines, but they were optional. If optional means watch your child receive a bunch of paper hearts and candy and ask where her valentines for her friends are Mummy. St. Patrick's Day came and went with us dressing Anna in a tasteful pair of green knickers (take that Ireland!!!!) and her coming home having celebrated 'Save Patrick Day' by making 'Leper Corn' traps in the school garden. Really, America, leprechaun traps? Several of her friends at school arrived having made these at home (more stuff to do people!) and I will admit they have charm - you make a small box and decorate it with things an Irish leprechaun might like, pennies, shiny things, (Guinness, semtex?), then you leave it somewhere in the hopes that in the morning you'll have caught a genuine California leprechaun. Or that dastardly imp will have nicked your silver and you'll be left thinking better luck next time. It's cute and Anna was very industrious making traps all over the place. I expect the local spiders and slugs had a field day.
In England, Easter involves guilting every known relative in to giving you a large hollow chocolate egg filled with more chocolate. Over here there is a lot more to it. You dye eggs, you craft baskets, you hunt eggs, and then you kill them! No, not really, then you open them and say, Hurrah! Candy! I know it's a lot of faff, but it is a lot of fun. I would have loved a childhood that involved Easter egg hunts. I have a feeling my brother and I would have killed each other over even just three or four hidden eggs. If only my parents had known.
One of the first hunts I went to over here was at my friend C's house. Anna was tiny, and being the uber-competitive Mum that I am I was incredibly frustrated at how she would stroll up to each egg, exclaim at it's beauty, then painstakingly slowly open it to reveal - candy! Which she would then s-l-o-w-l-y open and consume while older children collected baskets of eggs and cold hard cash (my friend C is who you need to know on the Easter Egg hunt front btw).
America's next holiday is far more my style. Cinco de Mayo. Someone pour me a margarita please, I need to practice.