Easter Beyond the Basket
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.
Our 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.
Starting 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.
Make 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.
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?