In my early motherhood, I used to really struggle with how to keep the focus on the real meanings of religious holidays, but that usually meant trying to smother the commercial, more traditional aspects of celebrating, and that didn't work well for me either. I grew up in a family where my mom loved to create holidays for us. We had traditions for each holiday and they were fun. I still knew what it was that we were really celebrating-- I never lost my love for the baby Jesus in hoping that Santa made his appearance, and I never confused the fact that Easter was about the Resurrection, not the Bunny who would fill and hide our baskets. So I've continued with that assurance, that we can have both fun and meaning as part of our family holiday traditions.
I've also learned that to try to compete with sugar is a losing battle when it comes to getting kids to sit still and listen, so instead we had a family devotional on Saturday night. I gathered the beautiful pictures from the Gospel Art Kit to tell the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We read from the Bible, and with the children sitting around, we remembered the last events of the Savior's life, leading up to his infinite sacrifice on our behalf. I had also seen directions for a cute visual aid on another blog, and had made one for our family so that Conor could have a strong visual reminder of what Easter is really all about.
When we got to the part of the story where Jesus' body is placed in the tomb and a rock rolled in front of it, I showed the little poster I'd made.
Then, on the third day, when Mary came to the tomb to find it empty. . .I had Conor roll back the stone and asked him if Jesus was still in there. Surprised, he said, "No! He's gone!" Inside is only the cloth which wrapped his body, because Jesus was alive again! (He loved that part.) We finished the story with his ascension into heaven and the promise that He will come again, and the truth that He lives! And we sang "He is Risen!" together and ended with a prayer. The visual aid stayed on the piano, next to the Christus statue, to remind us throughout the weekend.
Easter morning begins the traditions that I grew up with as a kid. During the night, the Easter Bunny fills and hides the baskets, and the kids get up early to search high and low for their treats. Lyndsay had gotten home from her road trip around 1am, after I was asleep, so my Easter present was finding her in her bed and hugging her.
We listened to General Conference together. (I'm so sorry for the rest of you that you had to listen to all those hours of talks written especially for me.) Lyndsay and I cooked our Easter Feast--she's my Lion House Roll girl, and the rest of the family watched The Blind Side while we worked in the kitchen. (Can I just say that I LOVE that movie? Love it.) We ate together and heard stories of Lyndsay's trip. Mostly about a certain boy who got up on the open-mic stage in the BYU-Idaho cafeteria and sang songs dedicated to her in front of everyone. Oh, how our hearts swooned! :)
Conor had his little Easter egg hunt in the backyard. We dyed our hard-boiled eggs in the evening.
The big kids never tire of the traditions. And the older they get, the prettier the eggs become!
Other things like frosted sugar cookies and Big Chocolate Easter Eggs keep me in the kitchen pretty much forever. But I want to create the feelings that my mother created for me when I was a child in the hearts of my children. And I want them to pass them on to their own children someday.