Easter Beyond the Basket

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by NotMolly

What usually happens when I share this list. I'm the one in the hat.

What usually happens when I share this list. I’m the one in the hat.

I sometimes hesitate to admit a few things about myself, because I get such odd reactions from my co-religionists. I’m okay with being a little out of the mainstream, and perhaps need to be a bit more bold about things that are in no way shameful, so here’s the short list:

Things Other People Seem To Think Are Quite Odd

1: I like reading Isaiah. Really. A Lot. No, I’m not heavily medicated.

2: We don’t have a TV. We used to own one, but it died. There were flames. And even when we had one, we didn’t have TV service. Our kids have grown up without TV.

3: My husband once bought a house without me ever seeing it. This did not freak me out.

4: We don’t do the Easter Bunny at our house. Never have. Never will.

We don’t do Easter baskets. We don’t dye eggs. We don’t deal with the flurry of nasty plastic stranded “grass.” We don’t eat chocolate bunnies. We don’t have an egg hunt. We don’t do Easter presents. We have no last-minute shopping pressure. We don’t do The Bunny.

So, what do we do?

We celebrate Christ, prophecy, our spiritual heritage, restoration, and resurrection… it’s really amazing to have an entire season of worship as a family.

Angels we have heard on highOur Christmas creche stays on the mantel until after Easter. Carrying the remembrance of Christ’s birth through the depths of winter, and into early spring and Easter helps us hook into concepts with a visual reminder.

We talk more about sacrifice and faith, and try to take on a few projects that extend our beliefs into the world, such as choosing a humanitarian service project, helping out in community kitchens, or paying special attention to praying for and serving those around us.

We talk a lot about repentance, and the gift of the Atonement. We take time to clear out things that are blocking our progress; repenting and making new habits for the spiritual things, donating and de-cluttering the temporal things. Lightening the load in the dark, deep days lets us feel the work of the Atonement in our lives.

Candle 6Starting the Saturday before Palm Sunday, we’ll bring out our candleholders, and spend a week with daily candle-lit devotions as a family, in our “Lenten Lights” celebration. There’s something very special about studying the events of the week, and tying together the words of the prophets, and doing it all with candles to light that makes the week memorable. Our littlest ones may not understand every reading (we need to cater to the needs of teens, not just littles), but they have loved helping light and extinguish the candles, and there are always ways to simplify the readings to suit them. This year, we’ll be repeating our devotionals from a previous season; here’s another take on the same concept you might like (I do!). You could also use video clips as part of your devotions; LDS.org has a great collection here.

During Holy Week, we’ll also celebrate a Passover meal. As a teen, I was delighted to participate in a few Passover Seder meals with Jewish friends. As a mother, I love sharing the depth of spiritual heritage and fulfilled prophecy with our family. It’s a different kind of celebratory meal, in good ways. We use a simplified Haggadah I prepared after a lot of research and conferencing with Jewish friends. Preparing for and enjoying our Passover meal is a part of Easter my kids love.

2013 is the year I want to make story blocks centered on Christ; I’ve had this project bookmarked for far too long now! Having small things to touch and play with helps my tactile kids reinforce scriptural learning.

If you’re wanting to make a switch this year, I can tell you it’s a great thing. The decreased commercial pressure is a treat all by itself! The added doctrinal depth is a joy.

If you’ve previously been a Big Bunny household, be sure your spouse is in full agreement with the switch, as you may run headlong into resistance from offspring who really like the gluttony of a secular Bunnyfest. It’s doesn’t work to arbitrarily ban the Bunny; you’ll want to move toward something better, rather than just away from something secular. Stand firm! Incorporating cooperative celebratory treats into your newly-focused holiday plan goes a long way in changing their mind.

goblets and shadowsMake the new traditions special. We invested ($6) in real lead crystal goblets from the dollar store (a thrift or charity shop would be another spot to look), so we could have “fancy dinner” (candles, fine glassware, nice napkins rather than our battered everyday cloth). Combined with lighting candles, our kids seem to really like the upgraded atmosphere; even our teenagers look forward to the special meals together.

Consider the needs and opinions of all the household members.  Focusing on Christ for Easter doesn’t mean it’s all sit-down scripture reading and solemn contemplation.

Full moon.Family nature walks and talks about Heavenly Father and His very obvious love for us could become a treasured part of your celebration. Bring along scriptures (for older kids) and paper and pencils for all, and do some sketching to commemorate the blessings we have through Christ.

Make a Easter-season weekly tradition of star-gazing, or watching the sunrise, sunset, or moonrise together, and talk about the signs and seasons Heavenly Father established for us, to set out His ordered celebration of time, and show the patterns of prophecy and fulfillment all through history. Understanding that everything around us is part of Heavenly Father’s plan for us is a key piece in a growing testimony of Christ.

Get involved in a church or interfaith music performance that celebrates our Savior. One of my most meaningful celebratory years, I was able to sing in an Easter Eve devotional. With a seder meal Friday, worship on Easter Eve, and early-morning Easter church services, my season was full and fat. (That’s another thing about worship and celebration: you may find you come to crave it, and secular things don’t fill that need anymore.)

Bring out the dress-up box and reenact stories from His ministry and final week. You could do this for Family Home Evening in the weeks leading up to Holy Week, or have special theatricals each night of the week from Palm to Easter Sunday.

Paint a mural of Holy Week on your fence (or on a big piece of posterboard for the kitchen wall). Or, create individual works of art related to Christ, the events of Holy Week, and the Resurrection, and display them in your home. Making art together can be a great Family Home Evening activity.

Plant things together. Consider a Grace Garden, or a table centerpiece that focuses on Christ. Decorate the house with growing things and flowers. Re-birth and renewal in Christ should have many tangible symbols in our celebrations.

Do you need some help with even more Christ-centered ideas that are full-hearted in themselves, without secularism or forced analogies? The March 2013 issue of The Ensign has a great article on Christ-centered celebration.

Every Easter season is a new chance to start a few simple household traditions that enrich our lives.

Keeping holidays with a focus on the holy aspects of life can be such a tremendous tradition in our homes and communities. What do you envision for celebration beyond the basket?


About NotMolly

Liz blogs as NotMolly, and lives on the western reaches of the Rocky Mountains with her Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal husband, their four beloved Minions, a huge number of books and assorted musical instruments, and four very spoiled pet hens. She can occasionally be somewhat serious and ponder The Big Stuff. And then she'll probably lapse into puns again...

13 Responses to Easter Beyond the Basket

  1. Liz says:

    This is beautiful and, if it helps, you have kindred spirits out here. I grew up without a TV. We have one in my home, but it is rarely on. I keep it for plug and play games and DVDs. I haven’t mastered Isaiah yet, but it’s on my list.

    Thanks for giving Easter a more spiritual twist!

    • Liz C says:

      We did use a TV for DVDs and videos… until the day with the smoke and flames. 🙂 I didn’t grow up with it, and our kids haven’t for the last 17 years. We do have a LOT of computer monitors, though. 🙂

      I hope you’ll fall in love with Isaiah. There’s amazing poetry in there, as well as doctrine. He’s tremendous.

  2. Becky Rose says:

    Thank you for all these ideas! I love the links!

    • Liz C says:

      Glad to help! There are a bunch of great resources on the web (I always look forward to Montserrat’s posts on the subject!), and it’s exciting to celebrate such an amazing season!

  3. Paul says:

    The bunny has never been to our house, either, though we do eat chocolate. We do a little egg hunt on Easter Saturday (or have; probably won’t this year as our youngest is 12 and we’ve kind of outgrown it) and have a communal Easter candy bowl (the spoils of the egg hunt). We have had more- and less- structured devotionals during Easter week in the past, depending on the tolerance of our kids (we went through periods when “daily scripture study” was one verse…). I love focusing on the Savior at this time of year.

    I really like the idea of linking the decluttering of our lives with the decluttering of our spaces. I think we’ll incorporate that thought this month.

    • Liz C says:

      The Bunny *sort of * showed up when I was a kid. Mom would put together some container with candy in it, and Dad would pilfer a few of his favorite pieces, leave the wrappers, and proclaim that Surely, The Easter Pig Hath Done This! 🙂

      We’re a multi-belief family; some prefer milk chocolate, and those of correct mind prefer dark chocolate, so we don’t do open candy.

      The clearing out really feels GOOD… great chance to donate to others, and lighten things, and be grateful.

  4. Mama Curls says:

    Thank you so much for these ideas. I’m not a fan of mixing myth with theology and was wondering what we could do with our little ones to pull away from the version of Easter found in the stores. Currently we are doing the Easter countdown from chocolate on my cranium and it has been wonderful. I’m excited to do more for Holy Week and try Passover (I’ve been to one before and it was fascinating). Thanks again for all of these ideas.

    • Liz C says:

      The simplified Haggadah I linked to works pretty well with small kids; there’s are coloring/drawing activities at the back. 🙂

      We got a flier in the mail today, pushing all manner of plastic and corn syrup as “Easter”… REALLY happy to stick with our Resurrection Day, and skip all of that other stuff!

  5. We don’t do the Easter Bunny either! I do throw a “spring” party for my kids and their cousins where we do the egg decorating/egg hunt stuff but its usually at least a week before Easter. We love to celebrate the whole month leading up to Easter with daily devotionals and activities to teach the younger ones. We have done Passover meals in the past and I would love to make that a tradition.

  6. Becca says:

    We separate the Easter Bunny from Passover as well (I was honestly surprised to find this in the Bible Dictionary for “Easter”: “This word occurs only once in the Bible (Acts 12:4) and then would be better translated “Passover.” The word Easter is from Eastre, a Norse goddess whose pagan festival was observed at the spring equinox. The association of this pagan goddess with the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was only by adaptation and synthesis. There is no real connection. Jesus, being the Lamb of God, was crucified at Passover time and is the true Passover (see 1 Cor. 5:7). He was raised from the grave on the third day thereafter. It thus became a springtime anniversary and has come to be called Easter in the Christian world.”)

    We try to focus on the Passover for “Easter” Sunday (and Holy Week) and connect our “Easter bunny” celebration with the Vernal equinox – making him more of a “welcome, Spring” type celebration. We haven’t banned the Easter bunny because I like fantastical things, Easter egg hunts, and candy – although we don’t really do “presents” for Easter – just candy. But we don’t really do gifts for Any holiday (including birthdays) – we give gifts throughout the year and then just focus on the meanings of holidays. Gifts distract, and get kids used to “expecting” gifts – and that just doesn’t seem like a gift if it is expected…

    Our kids are young, so we haven’t really established many Passover traditions, but I would like to start this year, especially with a Seder meal because I think our 6 year old is old and wise enough to understand the symbolism. We had a Passover dinner when I was in YW years ago, and I remember it being a really spiritual experience. I am looking forward to starting some fun and meaningful traditions this year. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Liz C says:

      It does work really well to separate things. We’ve had spring parties later (because where we are, spring is definitely later than Passover!), and those are a hoot. I have a great recipe for sugar cookies to cut and decorate…. we did a zillion of them last week for my 8yo daughter’s “Making Party” birthday celebration.

  7. Brenda says:

    Thanks so much for some wonderful ideas, I think we will start a Passover meal tradition this year. 🙂

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