My family didn't do a whole lot for easter when I was a child. Of course, we didn't have a lot of money either. We didn't get Easter Baskets or hunt eggs. The only thing I remember doing is (when the budget allowed) getting a new dress. Often it would be handmade by my mom because back then it was cheaper to make it than to buy it new.
I remember wondering why we couldn't go to egg hunts instead of church, or eat chocolate bunnies like many of my friends. The answer was the same each year. It went something like this:
Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. We do that every time we go to church. Bunnies and eggs have nothing to do with it, so we aren't going to celebrate Easter that way.
Of course, as a child I wasn't happy with their decision. I wanted parties and candy. I was thankful that I got my dress (most years), and I thought when I had kids I would do things differently.
It's hard as a parent to make decisions that your immature child will not understand. As with many things I haven't done what I said I would do. "When I was a child, I spoke as a child..."
This year is the first year that I've had an issue. My son isn't really interested in parties as much as he is interested in eating the candy usually involved. My first daughter has always been compliant and hasn't shown any desire to change the status quo. Enter Hannah.
Hannah lives life with gusto. As a baby she was either laughing or screaming. There was never an in-between, "okay" kind of emotion with her. This year, as Easter got closer I kept hearing her comment about how excited she was. Of course, along with the comments she usually included information about what, exactly, she was looking forward to. Mind you, none of these things are traditions in our house, nor have we ever discussed doing them this year.
As she's talked about egg hunts and eating candy, I've thought more and more about why I've made the decisions I've made as a parent. This train of thought prompted a discussion with my hubby (because honestly... it wasn't just me who decided not to do all the "usual" easter stuff with the kids).
We've been on the same page about Easter from day one. The way he put it is, "I hate the crass commercialization of the holiday." When I asked his opinion about starting some new traditions this year, he said he wanted to stay away from the whole easter bunny, candy, egg hunt theme,
Still, I felt something was missing. In trying to keep distance from the heathen elements, we never replaced the celebration with more appropriate elements like we have with Christmas. So finally we came up with a plan.
First, I had to find something to replace the bunny candy. I asked God what I could do in place of bunnies that poop jelly beans, or Cadbury Eggs. While I was at Publix Hannah was entranced by a huge seasonal display of treats and I humored her by looking at the different ones she pointed out. Then suddenly my eyes lit upon something different. I found these little boxes of Whitman Chocolates. Each box said something like "He Lives" or "He Is Risen." I slipped them quietly into my shopping basket and plan to give them to the kids tomorrow morning. I also purchased a package of traditional Passover treats from Costco. We'll break open these boxes as dessert tomorrow after dinner.
Second, we had to find something to replace the egg hunt. My hubby went to a Messianic Passover Seder a few years ago, and he suggested taking an element from their traditions. We'll play "Find the Matzo." Of course it's been several years, so we're a little hazy on the details. We will have a pouch with three compartments. There will be a matzo in each one. The one in the middle will be taken out and broken. Then the broken matzo will be hidden somewhere and the kids will go and find it. Of course there is so much symbolism in this act. He is going to talk to the kids about all of that.
The third thing is the traditional Easter meal. The irony is not lost on me that the usual meat served on Easter is ham... the quintessential "unclean" meat. I thought about this one for a while, and I was going to try to do something more kosher. As the day approached, however I thought about how the veil in the temple was torn as Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. So I have decided, rather than just follow the crowd blindly, I am purposely going to prepare a pork roast for our dinner. I want to enjoy our freedom from having to fulfill the law in order to have a relationship with God.
Having said that, however, I've missed dyeing eggs with my children and doing the generally accepted "easter" traditions. Egg hunts are a lot of fun, and I would like my children to experience them. So, in addition to starting these new traditions, I will be celebrating springtime on May Day. In future years I might celebrate it on the first day of spring... But that's a whole different blog post.