I have to defend the commercialization of Easter. I love the commercialization of Easter. First of all, it’s so much more under-stated than Christmas and is very little pressure for me. Have you looked inside those plastic eggs? There is CHOCOLATE in there. YUMMY! I am not a fan of the Easter Bunny- not the creepy one at the mall anyway. But I love Easter flowers, fancy clothes, and all the candy the Easter Bunny brings. My goodness I love the candy.
We were raised to really appreciate the candy and goodies that came on Easter by the 40 days of Lent before it. We gave “stuff” up- “stuff” we missed. There were no snacks or sweets in the house. Every Friday we went to Stations of the Cross, which back then seemed like a 4 hour service (but is much, much less time.) Lent had a gloomy, dark, sad atmosphere. All through Lent Mom sewed the Easter clothes, and that meant “trying on” your outfit, getting stuck with pins while she hemmed the dress. We stood through the reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday. We were “starving” on Good Friday and quiet on Holy Saturday. I’ll never forget the crown of thorns I went to bed with on Holy Saturday night- really just the itchiest, tightest curlers and bobby pins all over my poor head. And the gloves! My pair never fit right. The boys had ties and belts, and our shoes were shiny and sweaty and worn over fake lace stockings that itched.
I love all the Lenten traditions now. I welcome a break from buying snacks and desserts for the kids. I’m happy to skip meat once a week- I’d skip it more if the Pope would only ask. I love the solemness and pathos of Stations of the Cross. The Lenten hymns are beautiful. I welcome the lack of holy water and covered statues and not saying Alleluia! because absence makes my heart grow fonder. I appreciate the symbols and sacramentals more when they return. Just today the priest used holy water to bless the palm leaves, and I caught a drop to bless myself. Everything is pointing to Easter now. The story is really very sad and gruesome, but the end is so wonderful.
That’s not so obvious or easy to imagine as a little kid. I don’t expect my kids to LOVE hearing the Passion or praying the Stations of the Cross, only to participate with reverence. How do we teach children to honor our religious practices, especially the ones that are long, boring, and uncomfortable? We BRIBE them! We trick them into loving our Holy Days by making things fun and joyous! We tell them to hush and wait patiently and stand/sit/kneel because, once we’re done, the Easter Bunny is coming! I am sorry, but as much as I loved Jesus as a child, I just couldn’t get as excited about His Resurrection and the Promise of Eternal Life as I could about a solid chocolate bunny and the swapping (and stealing) of jelly beans that would come the next day. I never missed the Alleluiah! like I missed ice cream. But somewhere along the way, I transferred my excitement over the Easter Bunny coming into excitement about just what all those beautiful fragrant Easter lilies symbolize- the Resurrection.
God wants happy children on Easter Sunday. Hunting for candy-filled plastic eggs and 15 oz. of chocolate shaped like a bunny make for happy children. I don’t think we should forget worship, but I do think good children who stick out the church service, because it IS long and loud, should get a wonderful reward!
Yesterday it was a year since a very good friend, and one of the most lively, good-natured women who ever lived, passed away. I have never appreciated Easter as much as this year, when I need to believe she is really alive, transformed, and not gone. My kids are not at that point in life, yet. I’m glad of it! But I have something to celebrate this Sunday, and I’ll be using all the help from Hershey’s and Josh Early chocolates I can get to make sure everyone is celebrating with me.
Ann Kinney has contributed to Imperfect Women since its inception in 2009. She is a busy mom and teacher.