Parenting is a series of never-ending tasks. One of those tasks is feeding your kid. It’s not optional. Even extremely not good parents are legally required to feed their kid. And since you have to feed your kid multiple meals every day, you might as well try to make it as not boring as possible.
In spite of our best efforts, our kid would choose to eat fries and ketchup for every meal. Fries are empty calories. There’s not a lot of nutritional value in slivers of fried potato. Regardless of the type of gourmet, non-GMO, vitamin-infused ketchup we use, there’s not a lot they’re getting from the condiment.
Those empty calories also mean the kid is hungrier sooner, so they don’t sleep nearly as long as if they ate something healthier. We do our best to present other options but sometimes — oftentimes — it’s just too difficult to feed them anything remotely healthy. So, they eat fries and ketchup. And it’s not good.
So, in our house, we’re now celebrating most every holiday.
Regardless of my family’s genealogy, we are embracing as many holidays as possible. We’re making food that’s tangentially related to the holiday we’re celebrating in an attempt to inspire our kid to eat something other than fries. It’s kind of working.
My family is eating foods not typically part of our regular rotation. It helps break the monotony of regular meal planning and that’s welcome for our kid — and us. We started at the beginning of the pandemic and so far, so good. When we were sheltering in place, celebrating social holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo seemed a little odd, but it soon felt normal. It’s like if you do something enough, what begins as out of the ordinary becomes, well, ordinary.
Ultimately, we’re celebrating every holiday because it’s an excuse to put something fun on the calendar. We’re not sitting our kid down, explaining the origins of the cuisine, the ceremonies to commemorate the holiday or decorating the house. This is a little less noble. We’re not opposed to any of this stuff — hell, we may be unknowingly on that path already — but right now, this is about food consumption with the small hope of broadening our kid’s horizons.
Bringing in cultures that aren’t your own is good because it gives everyone something to look forward to. When you’re a kid it doesn’t really matter why there’s cupcakes in the classroom. There are cupcakes and that’s all that matters. We’re using that logic and offering things other than cupcakes.
It’s not that much different than introducing your own cultural traditions to your child. Kids are delivered as blank slates. They know nothing. Literally nothing. There’s nothing inherently about them that identifies them as any specific nationality. All of that is learned. So why not introduce every type of holiday as early as possible? Why not make some dishes that require trips to H Mart? Even if they don’t eat anything new, at least we, the parents, get to break up our dining monotony.
There’s a reason day care and primary school have lessons for most every holiday: there’s a lot of time to fill. There may be an agenda to mold young minds, teach kids about social justice to encourage them to think about things from the other’s perspective, but it’s mostly because there are so, so many hours to fill. Yes, it’s great when the other is normalized to children. It’s extremely difficult to be a bigot when you’re taught a place of understanding at a young age. But have you ever tried to fill eight hours with a toddler? You’re not really thinking about the world at large when you just need a small person to be quiet and sit still for 10 seconds.
You probably thought this was going to be a feel-good piece about respecting and embracing other cultures, a “Kumbaya” plea for understanding. Yeah, it’s not that.
You might have thought this was going to preach cultural appropriation. It’s not that, either.
I am not telling my kid to claim anything they are or are not. At this stage in their life, that is not important to me. If they want to embrace any aspect of their existence, great. If they don’t understand stuff like nationality, great. What’s more important to me, a parent of a very young person, is feeding my kid.
This is mostly about getting my kid to eat something other than fries and ketchup. I’ll embrace most any holiday that gets them to eat anything not fried.