I experienced internal conflict as Easter approached this year. A number of posts and twitter feeds discussed Easter basket plans: toys, clothes, outdoor chalk, bubbles, etc. I felt a strong pull to buy stuff to flush out our basket. I was *this* close to buying a puzzle and a board book and didn't the kids need some new clothes? On the other hand, I do not want Easter to become the spring version of Christmas. Growing up, we had a special cake (or eclair) with our name on it and perhaps some sour patch kids and jelly bellies. I remember my mother saying that Easter is about celebrating Christ's Atonement and Resurrection, not about new Easter dresses and giant chocolate bunnies. I understand and respect that. Somehow, I want to make the day special and fun, but without buying into the consumerism that surrounds the holidays. Do my children really need more stuff? No! I also want to keep the focus religious in nature. With those things in mind, we tried to focus on "experiences" vs. "stuff" this year. Here is what we did:
(I feel like I need a conditional statement here. These were our choices for this year. We have made different choices in the past. I do not judge you for making different decisions. I am sharing this because perhaps there is one person out there who might find this interesting and perhaps moderately helpful. Whew. Let's proceed.)
We read a scripture every night using this article from The Friend (church publication). I liked this because after we read, I could ask Finn which picture went with the verse and get a sense of his reading comprehension. It also worked well with a new goal of mine to have daily family scripture study and prayer so, yeah!
(Side story: the Monday before Easter, we had a Family Home Evening lesson on Easter and why we celebrate it: Christ died and was resurrected, etc. That Saturday before Easter, there appeared a dead robin on our driveway. Finn asked if it was going to come alive again, "just like Jesus." While I am happy that he seems to understand the concept of resurrection, I am definitely not equipped to answer these types of questions. What _is_ the doctrine when it comes to the resurrection of animals?" I might have answered, "Uh...maybe? Yes?")
We painted wooden eggs. This is our third year doing this, and I really love it. I started it because I wanted an alternative to plastic eggs for an egg hunt. I don't like the idea of filling the eggs with candy or other stuff. I also dislike like how the eggs crack and break over time and use, and you have to toss them and buy new ones. (Although I do admit that my children do have a fondness for them.) Instead, Finn and I paint one or two wooden eggs a year. Next year Enna will be old enough to paint one too. We slowly increase our egg numbers, and we have fun looking at the previously painted eggs. They are fun to play with, and I don't have to worry about them getting knocked around. On the bottom, I put the initial of the person who painted the egg and the year.
We had an Easter basket. Look, I am not some total crazy person. I like special treats just as much as the next person. Each person got a little paper bunny box (printed off here) filled with homemade lemon meltaways, some chocolate, fruit leather, a Kind bar, and whatever else looked interesting at the time when I was perusing the snack isle of the health food store. Enna and Finn also got a fruit pouch. I was initially just getting them for Enna since she can't eat the other treats yet, but Finn really wanted one too. Sure kid. I will give you a pureed fruit pouch. The wooden eggs make an appearance in the basket as well as our stuffed rabbit.
We ate a special meal. This year we had ham, roasted sweet potatoes, and steamed asparagus. Nice and simple. I was pretty stoked that the sweet potatoes and asparagus were local. (The ham was a supermarket special, so my snoot-cred is negligible.) For dessert, Mr. F. and I decided to go all slavic, despite not having any slavic blood in our bones, by making Paska, both bread and cheese versions. These are traditional Ukrainian Easter dishes: a raisin-studded brioche shaped in a cylinder, and a sweet cheese molded into a pyramid. They turned out only o.k. The problem was a lack of reliable recipes. Also, I am not sure brioche can be made reliably gluten-free. (Side note: none of my Ukrainian friends had ever heard or eaten the cheese Paska, despite being "a traditional Ukrainian Easter dish." Hmmmm.)
We watched a short video about the death and resurrection of Christ. I am not sure that wasn't the best idea as I then had to field a hundred questions about the mean men who stabbed Jesus with a sword. "Why did they do that?" "How sharp was the sword?" "How did the men grow mean?" "How long did it hurt Jesus?"
We ended the day on a high note with a wee Easter egg hunt in our back yard using our wooden eggs. Finn gets so excited doing these. After he finds all the eggs, he loves to be "Sneaky Finn" and hide them all again.
I would love to hear how you celebrated Easter. Maybe I can snag your ideas for next year!