When I was young, the two best things about Easter morning were the Easter-basket hunt, with all six of us kids scurrying in every direction, and, of course, the candy in our Easter baskets.
The usual candy classics overflowed — chocolate eggs and bunnies swimming in a jellybean sea. I distinctly remember the year when the Easter Bunny discovered Fannie May Meltaways: My own box of Fannie May candy — now that was a slice of heaven.
So why now, three decades later, has this special tradition lost some of its magic for me? Is it because Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and about a zillion kids’ birthdays all fall within a four-month period, to the point where I begin wondering, “When is there not a week with some sort of glorious surprise for my children?”
Perhaps that's the point. Easter isn't just the candyfest it has become for many. Instead, it's the most significant day of the year — the day on which our Lord rose from the dead.
Easter is bigger than Thanksgiving, bigger than Christmas. But how many of us give it the importance it deserves?
Deeper reflection and a more thorough penitential course during Lent would lead to a greater celebration on Easter.
Avoiding overindulgence on secondary celebrations would also help to keep it special.
But don't overlook those Easter baskets. They hold opportunities to help make Easter a day to remember for both parents and kids.
If we start thinking outside the box — or the basket — we can give these pastel containers a new purpose. Here are some ideas for each child's basket:
• Construct a theme-based Easter basket. A nice way to create one is to design a basket around a book. For example, gather a religious book such as God's Promises for Girls (Zonderkids), a saint's medal, a rosary and crucifix, and arrange them in the basket along with suitable sweets.
• Add a special card that contains written promises that you, as parents, make to your child.
• Focus on what your child did for Lent. If he gave up chocolate or soda, load his basket with forbidden fruit.
• Think beyond toys and goodies. Give a basketful of praise that includes prize ribbons, a banner declaring, “You're Great!” or an award for the “World's Greatest Brother.”
• Recognize what your family did together during Lent. Include information about the charity you donated to, a photo of your family doing service together or a thank-you note to an organization for letting you serve them.
• Add a letter, artwork, prayer card or other token that shows how you grew spiritually during Lent. Next year, ask each family member to place something describing his own Lenten journey in the rest of the family's Easter baskets.
• Give a framed picture of something your child did during the previous year, such as performances in a school play or an activity on last summer's vacation.
• Put a plain sheet of paper in each basket. The recipients then write about an Easter-related topic. Some ideas: “What I did for Lent and how it affected me.” “The best thing my sister did for me lately was …” “If I were the Easter Bunny, I would give my Dad … in his basket because …” After the notes are written, don't read them. Place them in the family Easter notebook for next year. Read the ones from last year aloud this year.
• Although it's traditional to pass on family heirlooms, such as jewelry and art, after one's death, why wait? Place a precious family treasure in the Easter basket each year. But first make sure the child is old enough to appreciate the gift.
Easter baskets can brim with beautiful ways that your family can connect spiritually and personally.
But don't miss other chances to have fun on Easter morning. Give out the baskets creatively.
Design a treasure hunt that uses clues only your family would understand.
Make something for the others and hide it for discovery during the annual Easter-egg hunt.
But remember: Kids still need lots and lots of candy on Easter. And so does the Easter Bunny!
Anyone know where I can find Fannie May candy on the East Coast?
Bridget Seyer writes from New Hartford, Connecticut.