Friday, April 15, 2011

How to Fire the Easter Bunny

I'm really struggling lately with how I want our family to celebrate Easter. I've never had a problem inviting the Easter Bunny and the candy and the eggs and the baskets and all the fun into our celebration, but this year I'm feeling uneasy.

I just don't want to lose Jesus amidst the jellybeans.

The thing is, Easter is huge. HUGE. And yet it seems to take a backseat to Christmas. I love Christmas, but Easter holds so much weight in my faith. Jesus was born. Jesus died. And then Jesus rose again.

He rose again!

Craft stores start marketing their Christmas wares in June or July. Retailers start throwing Christmas at us in September. By the time Easter is on the shelves (occupying a fraction of the space that Christmas requires), it's only a few weeks away. We listen to Christmas carols at the hint of the first snowflake, but you'd be hard-pressed to name five Easter songs.

It just seems that if Christmas gets such a build-up, doesn't Easter deserve at least that much?

I'm not out to change an entire culture of tradition, but I can change it in my family. I've been so inspired by my friend Janna, who feels passionately about making Easter meaningful.  I strongly encourage you to visit her blog to get a bunch of great, practical ideas about how to make Jesus the focus and priority in these days and weeks before Easter Sunday.  She has Easter crafts, recipes, and activities, and she even has a playlist of Easter carols to put on your iPod to get your mind focused on the Lord.

We built our Hill of Calvary on Sunday and are waiting for our sprouts to come up!  Since then we've gotten to talk about the hill, the crosses and the empty tomb.

And even though I know my girls know what Easter is all about, I cringed when Addie said, "What I especially love about Easter is THE CANDY!!!!"  (I'm sure those of you who know Addie can hear - and see - her saying this, with her big blue eyes popping out of her head.)

So, back to the Easter Bunny.

The Easter Bunny is fun.  It's springy and fun and seems innocent.  My problem with the Easter Bunny is when he becomes more anticipated than the celebration of Jesus' resurrection.

So here are a couple of the thoughts rolling around in my head:

1.  The Easter Bunny won't come on Easter Sunday.  With Gary being a pastor, he's not around on Sunday morning.  It's kind of a drag to do the whole Easter bunny thing alone.  For years now, I've rallied the troops and made sure they come downstairs all together to see what the Easter Bunny left them... and I always miss  having Gary there to watch the fun with me.

My friend Mer has her kids find their baskets on Friday night.  I think that's brilliant!  Then they get to have the fun of the Easter Bunny and baskets, but save Sunday for focusing on Jesus.  I love it.  Read her post about it - Saturday is saved for all-you-can-eat candy consumption.  Which leaves Saturday night for... well, you'd better go read that post.

2.  I'm done with junk in the Easter baskets.  I remember one year, I was very ill-prepared for Easter morning and ran to a toy store the night before.  I am embarrassed when I remember the load of junk I came home with.  Yo-yos with a buck-toothed bunny on them, erasers in the shape of a chick, an egg-shaped bouncy ball... you know what I mean.  I'm fairly confident that the girls handled each item once when sifting through the basket and then they were relegated to the bottom of the toy box.  I read this blog the other day about taking back the Easter basket and could totally relate.

So IF the Easter Bunny leaves baskets for my kids (I'm still debating), they'll be good.  They'll have candy... and maybe not much else.  When I was younger, we always received a stuffed bunny.  It's so hard to break from this tradition, but honestly, those bunnies were hardly played with, and my girls don't play with theirs either.  This year I'm considering a Easter book for each kid plus a little something they've had their eye on (Addie saw a necklace she wants, Brody a dinosaur...), and of course candy.  Sweet, simple, and keeps Jesus in the spotlight.

My kids still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Toothfairy (naturally, they're only 7, 5, 2 and 8 months old!), so if I canned the Easter Bunny, they'd be on to me and figure out those other mysteries in no time.  And I don't believe there's any harm in letting the Easter Bunny visit as long as Jesus remains the focus.  And I think that can be done.

So contrary to the title of this post, I don't want to fire the Easter Bunny.  (And you should know that the original title was "I Killed the Easter Bunny" because I was ready to do away with him altogether.)


I'm just demoting the Easter Bunny.

And Jesus is getting a raise.  (Ba-dum-bum!)  But seriously, I want my children to understand without a doubt that Easter is about Jesus.  The bunny, the eggs, the candy... it's all a buildup to the greatest celebration of all on a Sunday morning filled with hope and new life.

Will the Easter Bunny visit your home?

17 comments:

  1. I've been saying this for years. ;) For Christians to participate in the easter bunny thing is shocking to me- but the same goes for santa at Christmas. There is no difference; each character (and no matter how much Christians try to say santa is a Christian figure, it's all just rationalization) completely takes away any real meaning to the day.

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  2. ...and doing both is also rationalization. ;)

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  4. Growing up, we always had the whole shebang with finding the hidden baskets full of all kinds of bunny stuff and hunting for eggs. My mom still likes to give the kids baskets full of trinkets and plastic flotsam. But, when we had Abby I made a conscious decision to make our family Easters more Jesus centered.

    We do baskets and say they're from the Easter bunny, but we don't make a production of it and we try to keep the baskets themselves as bunny-less as possible. We do chocolate crosses instead of bunnies. I try to have some sort of useful gift instead of generic plastic stuff. Usually it's an Easter-themed book or a Christian DVD of some sort (usually VeggieTales or last year Abby really wanted Jesus Christ Superstar and the year before I hunted down some DVDs of the old show "Superbook"). This year it's the Seeds CD. Abby's also getting a bible cover for the bible she got for Christmas. And of course we have a small assortment of candies to fill things out. :)

    Abby actually doesn't believe in the Easter bunny--a year or two ago, we were at the grocery store, passing the season area full of plastic eggs, premade baskets and mountains of bunny themed candies and chocolates, and she turned to me and said "why does everyone talk about the Easter Bunny bringing things when it's the moms and dads buying all this stuff?" I was floored but was truthful and said "well, even grown ups like to have fun and play pretend sometimes". She somehow still seems to believe in Santa and the tooth fairy, though. I think because their "wares" aren't so prominently displayed for sale. And she hasn't said anything to sway Lucas one way or the other.

    Doing both may seem like rationalization or hypocrisy, but it works for our family. The kids can have fun but it still keeps the focus of the day where it should be.

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  5. i'm with you, angie. :) i've struggled with this issue in the recent years as well. thanks for the "mustard seeds" link.....i've already added her blog to my blog list and look forward to reading her updates and getting some great ideas of ways to help share and grow the faith of our little "sprouts." miss you! xoxo

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  6. Blogspot REALLY needs an edit option. LOL I hate having to delete a whole post just to fix spelling and grammar mistakes.

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  7. Ang,

    I appreciate your convictions. And I really love the idea of having the Easter bunny come on Friday, having Saturday to binge, and Sunday to be all about Jesus. It gives me something to think about as we prepare for traditions with our little one in the coming years.

    Easter has always had extra special meaning to me, and it's funny that it's always around my birthday, because Easter is my re-birth. I asked Jesus into my heart on Easter Sunday (night) when I was 10. And I'm so glad I did!! :)

    I'm also glad I read this post, and am eager to talk to the kids on Easter about Jesus moreso than the Easter bunny (though it's so easy to open with, "what did the Easter bunny bring you?"... kinda like Santa.) Point taken. Hold true to what you believe and what you want your kids to take away from the holiday.

    And there's no doubt that Addie loves Jesus... and candy. ;)

    Love you, sister!!

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  8. Ok, what does it say about me that I laughed so hard that I cried at that last picture?!

    But about your post, it's amazing that we seem to have been feeling the same way about our Easter traditions. To be honest, a few years ago, I just quit doing the whole Easter basket thing. My older 2 have never questioned it and my younger 2 don't know anything about it. Of course, we still do egg hunts and things but we just don't do The Ester bunny left us a basket thing on Sunday morning.

    btw, still laughing at that picture!

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  9. I just told my husband about 20 minutes ago that we are telling our daughters there is no Easter Bunny. I don't like Santa either but I've been chided so often about eliminating these characters I feel as though I will win the "Worst Mom Award Ever" if I do reveal to my girls there is no such thing. I just wonder how God feels that we put his son in the backseat while we allow fictitious characters to soak up all of the glory?

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  10. That picture made me laugh out loud.

    I love all these ideas...and Janna inspires me too!
    Last year our Easter bunny brought movie tickets to a matinee. I loved that idea SO much that I've put my petition in for that this year as well. :)

    I really really really love being a part of a liturgical church. The season of Lent is LONG but I think it helps my kids "get it" for six additional weeks.

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  11. I could have written this post myself! I feel the same way and have been debating it too! Easter has ALWAYS been my most favorite holiday! It means more to me to attend church on Easter than Christmas, I love the time with family without the distraction of presents, and the traditional Easter meal is at the top of my list too!!
    What's been really great is that Kenzie hasn't even brought up the Easter bunny yet but gets excited to see our Hill of Calvary every morning as it is sprouting NICELY!!! ...and we had so much fun doing it together too! (blog post coming, I promise!)
    So, I have collected a few things for the traditional "basket", an electric toothbrush and the Tangled DVD (both things she's been begging for!) and will of course have the candy too...
    But our focus will be on JESUS!!

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  12. For me as a kid, Easter wasn't just about candy and baskets, but more about spending time with family. We always spent Easter weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's house at the lake. We did Easter baskets complete with chocolate bunnys and jelly beans. We never got toys or gifts, just candy. Each year with our boys we still hide the baskets and the egss. We also try to spend time with friends and family on this special day. We read the bible almost every night so I don't feel that we have to make a special exception for Easter and Christmas. If feel that Jesus is is the heart's of my boys everyday. They know the meaning of Easter and Christmas. We try to do meaningful activities and lessons that go with each important! section of our faith. I know that as they get older, the actual meaning of these holidays will sink in more. Right now I'm content that my boys love Jesus and celebrate him in some way everyday.

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  13. Is it bad that I am a tad relieved that even a Pastor's wife/family struggle with the balance between cultural/societal expectations and truly keeping the honor and focus where it belongs this season? I love the Friday night Easter basket idea! Sadly tho, if the bunny happened to slack off entirely with the baskets at our house I think my kids would just assume the Tooth Fairy was a bad influence on him. She's a total slacker.

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  14. First of all, that last picture is HILARIOUS!! So funny!

    Easter is also my favorite holiday and I've been worrying about how to get my boys excited about Jesus and not candy. :) We did a little of both growing up and I don't even think that my parents were intentional about it, but I knew it wasn't about the candy and the eggs. I think that if we are honoring Christ in our homes and creating meaningful traditions, that the candy, eggs, and bunnies will just be a footnote on the holiday.

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  15. Thanks for the info, Angie! Daniel and I have been trying to come up with some ideas for Jesus Easter, too. Miriam is at the perfect age to start those traditions. And, as always.....you are funny. : )

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  16. Thanks so much for the link! It's so nice to find other local bloggers!

    I love your idea of doing baskets on Saturday and saving Sunday for Jesus!

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  17. I've gone the middle way. Our house has an "Easter Tree," though it's small enough to put on a table, and it's decorated with colorful crosses as well as more traditional "Easter" decorations. I decorate in springtime colors, and since I love stuffed animals, I've traded all but two bunnies (they're so cute!) for lambs. You know... Lamb of God.
    When my kids were little, we read the REAL Easter story in picture-book form (I've got a couple) and one cute Christian book about the Easter bunny, relating to new life. (I like four-legged bunnies, not those hideous two-legged costumes. Shudder.)
    I grew up with a traditional, basket-hunting, candy-gulping Easter at my Grandparents' house, and we never went to church on Easter Sunday, but I believe in spite of my "pagan upbringing." I wouldn't worry too much.

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