As I think back on the years of celebrating the Easter holiday with my husband and children, my memories are filled with Easter morning church services, frilly handmade dresses, matching ties, and baskets full of fresh fruit, plastic eggs, and inexpensive treats.
I remember Easter afternoons spent vacuuming the green plastic Easter grass off our living room floor and watching with excitement as the children ran after hidden Easter eggs in our backyard.
One particular Easter memory, however, is more precious than all the rest. It was the Easter that changed how our family celebrated this amazing holiday forever. In a humorous and insightful way, our three-year-old taught us a very valuable lesson.
It was the Easter after our first child, Caitlyn, turned three years old. She had only been three for barely a month, and we were eagerly anticipating that Easter. Unlike the previous Easter holidays, she was now old enough to begin to understand the true reason for our celebration!
We had gone back and forth about whether to initiate the Easter Bunny tradition. Her grandparents were very much anticipating introducing her to this traditional, joy-filled rabbit, but her father and I were not so sure.
Aside from the “lying to your children” debate that always comes up regarding fictional childhood characters, my husband and I just really wanted to make sure that we presented this celebrated day in a way that would allow Caitlyn to soak up the amazement and awe of the gift that Christ had given to the world when he sacrificed his life paying the debt for our sins, and then rose from the dead on the third day. The story is such a life-changing one, and we longed to introduce her to it in the best way possible, without any distractions from hopping bunnies that come in the night bearing gifts.
Honestly, we were even on the fence about whether to do the whole Easter basket thing at all.
Eventually, our own childhood Easter memories filled with baskets of candy and trinkets won out, and we decided to go along with the grandparents and introduce our daughter to the Easter Bunny.
On the flip-side, however, we did it our own way. We tried to downplay the Easter Bunny and its role in our holiday, reading board books of the Easter story and coloring pictures and crafts of Jesus rising from the grave. Over the few weeks before Easter arrived, we talked often about Christ’s gift and how special it was. My husband and I also put together a nice Easter basket for Caitlyn filled with bananas and peaches (her favorite) and some cute little trinkets, as well as her own personal Easter egg hunt in our backyard.
The highly anticipated Easter morning arrived! We watched and waited to see her reaction to her basket of goodies. After a huge smile and lots of giggles as she dug through her treats, she said something that surprised her father and I. “I love my basket from Jesus!” My husband and I couldn’t help but laugh, and we tried to correct her, but she wouldn’t believe anyone other than Jesus brought her the basket of gifts.
That Easter morning was even more precious than we could have ever imagined. After all the preparation for the holiday, our three-year-old had grasped the one thing that was most important of all on Easter – Christ’s gift.
She may not have quite understood what gift we were celebrating, but she understood that Jesus was the one who gave it.
It took a few years for Caitlyn to finally accept the fact that her parents, not Jesus, gifted her with a basket of goodies every Easter morning. The Easter Bunny never again made any appearances at our house.
That year we learned that it wasn’t about whether introducing your child to the Easter Bunny is right or wrong. It was about making sure that whether you choose to follow tradition or not, you strive to teach your children the true reason for the celebration. Caitlyn didn’t need the Easter Bunny to enjoy the holiday. She had something far greater. She had a gift from Jesus.
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How do you keep the true reason for Easter at the forefront of your family’s holiday celebrations? Need a resource for introducing the Easter story to your little one? Be sure and check out the Precious Moments: My Easter Bible Storybook!