How Do You Do Easter?

Growing up, we never got Easter baskets or believed in the Easter bunny. I’m sure we had Easter parties at school and got Easter candy there, and we often decorated eggs at home, but the traditional Easter baskets full of candy on Easter morning — not something my parents bought into.

We did always get new Easter outfits, and being a church going family, of course we went to church on Easter Sunday morning. After church, we’d go out to eat with friends or family, or my mom would make a nice meal at home.

I never felt deprived, really. In fact, I remember being somewhat horrified by kids showing up at church with pockets full of candy at 10am. It isn’t that we never ate candy, I’m sure I got more than my fair share, but we certainly didn’t eat it for breakfast — not even on Easter. Okay, so maybe on Christmas. But then again, it’s not like we were going anywhere on Christmas morning where we were expected to sit still and behave for over an hour.

Anyway. When I became a parent, I didn’t play up the Easter bunny legend, but I did set out a little something for my kids on Easter mornings — a stuffed animal or a toy in an Easter basket.

C – Easter 2005

I’ve always loved that picture – caught red handed!!

As the kids have grown, so has their Easter loot. I usually do a lot of candy and a few cheapie toys — sort of like what I put in their Christmas stockings. We also do new outfits for church, and often there is a family gathering with an egg hunt at one home or another in the afternoon.

Easter Egg Hunt 2007

But this year I’m re-thinking the whole Easter basket thing.

I’m not sure why, but as I happened to walk down the seasonal aisle of the CVS yesterday on my way to the pharmacy counter, it just hit me that I don’t want to buy into the hype anymore.

The more entrenched I get in this whole foods lifestyle and the more I feel the ill effects of sugar on my own body, the less tolerance I have for the “everything in moderation” mantra that our modern culture loves to embrace.

I always seem to ruffle a few feathers when I start preaching against the evils of sugar, but honestly, the more I learn, the more I’m convinced the stuff is addictive and destructive.

On the one hand, I don’t want to be a total killjoy and deprive my kids of one of America’s favorite past times. After all, this is the land of the free and the home of the cheap-food-that-is-killing-us-so-slowly-we-don’t-even-realize-it.

Okay, so I always did have a flare for the melodrama.

But on the other hand, I don’t see the sense in loading my kids up with crap candy that I’m just going to find a way to throw away when they aren’t looking.

So this year I’d like to give more thought to what I put in their baskets. Usually I run out to CVS the night before Easter and grab whatever’s left in the seasonal candy aisle. (Bonus if I walked by the Dollar Spot at Target earlier in the week and picked up a few decorative note pads or a pack of sidewalk chalk to toss in for good measure.)

But this year I want to do something different, and that’s going to require a little more thought and planning than I usually put into it. I want to make sure the baskets are special so the kids don’t feel like they’re missing out when they aren’t filled with artificially enhanced sugar and cheap chocolate.

So I’m wondering. What do you put in your kids’ Easter baskets? (Besides candy, that is.)

And what else do you do to make the holiday special?

Some years we decorate eggs. The kids love that, of course.

C always did take her art projects seriously.

We always go shopping for new Easter outfits, which I realize is more for me than for them.

Easter 2007

Easter 2010

Of course, as a believer, Easter is about more than candy and bunnies and baskets, although I see no harm in participating in the cultural aspects of the holiday — except, of course, for the part where we overload our kids with toxic substances. But I certainly don’t want to neglect the true reason for the holiday.

When I was a 3rd grade teacher in Christian school, we used to use the Resurrection Eggs to explain the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection, although I never could get really excited about those gimmicky ideas like that. (Don’t even get me started about the resurrection cookies you always hear about this time of year.)

Then again, it doesn’t get much more gimmicky than an Easter bunny delivering a basket full of junk, and I never seemed to second guess the ludicrousness of that.

I guess I just feel that sometimes we end up making our religious celebrations a mockery. I know there are honorable intentions behind most of the gimmicks and gizmos, but that doesn’t make them the wisest choice for teaching our kids Biblical truths. And yet I hate to think that I spend more time shopping for outfits and filling Easter baskets than I do teaching my kids about the death and resurrection. We do have some beautiful Easter books that my parents have given us over the years that I like to read with the kids.

Yes, these are the things I lay awake at night thinking about. Okay, so I don’t lay awake at night EVER. But if I did, I’d be pondering these things. Instead, I blog about them.

So. Inquiring minds and all… How do you do Easter in your house?