I asked Sam a few weeks ago if he knew what we celebrate at Easter, and he said “Jesus and little baby bunnies”… I totally call that a win.
At our house, we do BOTH. We make sure to put the emphasis and the focus on JESUS at Easter, but we also include little bits of culture/ consumerism/whatever you want to call it by incorporating plenty of bunnies, eggs, etc. into our celebration…
I think I explained it best back at Christmas when I talked about Santa on E, Myself, and I:
The Santa books and pajamas and decorations? Those things come out for about five weeks in the winter ONLY. Jesus is a staple in our home all year long. When I remember that, striking a balance isn’t all that hard…
All the fun and excitement that comes with Santa (and his sleigh full of toys) in December, is just the tiniest symbol of the real gift of Jesus. Because God sent Jesus to be born a baby and live (and die) with us, we ALL have the gift of eternal life and freedom from our sins. (Now, admittedly, that’s a little deep for a two year old – we are really just focused on Jesus being born at Christmas right now – but you get my gist.)
Bottom line: Our Christmas includes Santa, but it is about Jesus.
For as long as we have kiddos in the house (or until the Lord changes our hearts I guess), I will hide plastic eggs in the yard, I will put Starburst (only) jellybeans in our porcelain bunny dish, and we will wake up Easter morning to baskets stuffed with sweet things and brightly colored “grass.” There is an innocence and a fun to those things that I want Sam (and any future kids we might have) to experience.
All those things? The pastel colors, the painted eggs, the “baby bunnies”? We will have them, and we will enjoy them; but, we will also talk about how they are only symbols of the NEWNESS and LIFE that Jesus’s death and resurrection bring to our everyday. They will be packed up and sent to live in the basement on Monday, but the new start and full life that we get from Jesus at Easter is FOREVER. Before the cross, we were lifeless and doomed. After it, we start FRESH with the hope of life eternal. THAT is worth celebrating. Heck, that is worth wearing our finest clothes and cooking a ham and eating a few too many jellybeans. Am I right?
So… Our Easter includes bunnies and eggs, but it is about Jesus.
As a side note, discussing the true meaning of Easter – Jesus being Crucified and risen from the dead – is a little challenging with a toddler who really doesn’t have much concept of sin and death yet. We’ve read the Easter story in The Jesus Storybook Bible many a time and I’ve found a few books (see below) that I think do a nice job of simplifying the story, but I have to admit that I’m still a little unsure how to talk about/explain it to him. Does anyone else have this struggle? Any good ideas for how to approach it?
And now, just in case you are interested/ still gathering items from the Easter Bunny at your house, here’s a peek at Sam’s Easter basket this year…
- The Story of Jesus by Roger Priddy/ Baby’s First Bible
- The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story. The Berenstain Bears were my favorites when I was little; and, now that I’m a mom (and Sam is finally old enough to appreciate a book with an actual story), I love all the good lessons that they teach. This one is, actually, a great telling of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and playful enough that Sam will want to read it over and over. (I also picked up two more Berenstain Bear books to include because they were buy two, get one free. #cantsresistadeal)
- Peek ‘ n Peep Eggs. (These might be a little too young for Sam, but I couldn’t resist them… I loved them when I was a kid.)
- Pastel play dough by Rose Art (from the Target One Spot).
- Egg-shaped sidewalk chalk & bubbles (which may have been in his basket last year and were never used – ha!).
- Very Hungry Caterpillar iced cookie (also from Barnes & Noble).
- Annie’s Organic Fruit Snack “Bunnies” (because these make me feel like a really health-conscious mom, and he will get plenty of chocolate and other sweets from his grandmas).
Also, in case you are wondering, I will take the specifically “Easter-related” items (like the books, primarily) and pack them up with our Easter decorations some time next week. Then, next year, when I get out all the decor, we will have new books to read, etc. leading up to Easter. I’ve done this for about a year with each holiday, and it works really nicely. Sam has especially enjoyed having the plastic eggs and Easter books out to play with since early March.
So, how do you celebrate Easter with your little ones? Any good ideas for how to keep the focus on Jesus? How are you stocking Easter baskets?
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