It goes without saying that I love holidays – especially the traditions and festivities that coincide as an intercal part of the celebration. For years, I have religiously obliged to culturally endorsed customs as a part of our children’s upbringing. Like most loving parents, I want my children to experience the fun, excitement and nostalgia of an Easter basket- filled with all the usual staples – jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, perhaps a toy or two, and even those borderline inedible, pastel marshmallow chicks. So why have I experienced a sudden change of heart? I mean, what harm is there in giving kids an Easter basket?
I realize this may not be a widely accepted, popular concept. Honestly, I wasn’t particularly inclined to the thought at first either. After all, it’s just a basket.
But the problem is not a basket- the problem is what the basket represents (or in better words, fails to represent). I have become rather fed up with buying into traditions that shift our focus from the real meaning of our celebration, whose sole purpose is to further encourage our innate hunger for self-centeredness. Easter and Christmas alike, have become nothing but reason to indulge our children with more stuff they really don’t need- empty stuff filled with empty promises and temporal joy. A risen Savior is simply not a good enough reason to rejoice- we need an Easter Basket. And what would the gift of eternal life be without candy-filled eggs and plush bunnies?
Easter baskets are certainly not evil, but they are certainly irrelevant.
While shopping the other day, I was faced with my usual Easter dilemma of choosing the perfect vehicle for my kids’ Easter goodies. Should I opt for the classic and sturdy whicker baskets or something more practical- perhaps one of those beach totes from the dollar store? I couldn’t decide. Fast forward to 3 pm that afternoon. I picked up Joanna from school and she began reminiscing about the birthday party she had attended over the past weekend. She loved one of the gifts the birthday girl received and asked if she could have one too. I told her what I always tell the kids when I’m not ready to commit to any kind of purchase: “Maybe for your birthday.”
With her birthday being less than two months away, I was certain my answer would suffice and put an end to her persistent questioning. But then she asked, “How many more days until Easter?” I instantly knew where this was going right before she added, “can I get it for Easter instead?” It’s amazing to me that more kids don’t grow up to be lawyers, because they are natural negotiators. Please refer to exhibit A (my daughter) and exhibit B (my son). The wheels in my head began to turn when I realized my daughter was associating Easter as another opportunity to get what she wants.
Our attention can become so easily focused on creating the perfect holiday experience for our children. We carefully consider every detail from decorating the house, planning an “eggstravagant” egg hunt, and the perfectly trimmed Easter basket. In doing so, we become distracted by tradition and lose sight of Easter’s purpose. It’s about the cross. It’s about Christ.
Driving in the car, I pondered her suggestion for a moment before I came to my concrete decision. After discussing my thoughts with Jesse, we both felt strongly to forget about the Easter baskets this year. Easter is not about a basket. It’s about our Mighty King, whose body was beaten beyond recognition, who feebly carried His own splintered instrument of death, who paid the debt we owed, who conquered the grave, who restored us to the Lord, and to this day, the One who victoriously sits at the right hand of God, interceding on our behalf.
Jesus’ crucifixion was not wrapped with a pretty bow. It was grotesquely horrific, but in spite of this severe image of pain and anguish, we find the very definition of love and eternal promise. Yet somehow, even with all this beautiful truth, we have become content and complacent with overshadowing Christ with commercialized pagan traditions. And once more, the purpose of the holiday becomes synonymous with false senses of significance .
When you place your perspective on Christ, all the man-made customs of Easter suddenly become so trivial. It’s not that I don’t want to lavish my children with the joy from gifts, candy, and fun. But I would rather my children be lavished by the joy of redemption, not chocolate bunnies. Lavished by the joy of salvation, not battery-operated, chirping chicks. And lavished by the joy of Christ, not a basket. There is no harm in a basket, but there is harm in allowing a basket draw our focus away where the real attention is due.
So while I can conclude that Easter baskets are not evil in of themselves, they do fail to accurately represent the Son of God. The Easter holiday marks the single most important event in all human history. Jesus fulfilled His prophesied purpose when He died on the cross and rose again. You and I were washed white as snow by the Blood of the Lamb. And that, in itself, is worth celebrating!
“And the angel said, ‘do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said'” (Matthew 28: 5 & 6).
He is alive!
Christ is risen!
The Humble Homemaker