I saw a funny video the other day, and in it, a little girl (maybe 4 years old) was asking her dad about Easter and what it means.
"Why do we give chocolate bunnies to people when obesity is such a big problem?"
"Why do we paint eggs bright colors, then try to hide them?"
"So, are the Easter bunny and Jesus best friends?" she asked innocently.
So there you have it. Sometimes a child can sum up a conundrum much better than we adults could ever hope to.
Personally, I'm a Christian. So are my husband and children. Easter, therefore, is a very important day to us. In fact, the entire Easter weekend – or the Holy Week – is important to us. These are the days around which all of our hope is built. And nowhere in the entire Bible is there mention of a bunny, colored eggs or treat-filled baskets. Still, we add these delights to our annual celebration for a number of reasons.
First, I was not raised in a Christian home. The rabbit and eggs (and dyed chicks, I'm sorry to say) were pretty much "it" for us on Easter. Mom would buy each of us children proper Easter attire – gloves and lace-cuffed anklet socks included – and she'd take us kids to church and drop us off for the Easter service. Weird, right? I didn't get it, either.
I remember toughing out those Easter services standing out like sore thumbs, listening to mumbo jumbo about which we kids understood absolutely nothing – knowing that at home, a plastic-grass-filled basket awaited, jammed with jellybeans (not the designer kind), a chocolate bunny and other sugary treats the dentist loved for us to eat. Our aunts and uncles and cousins were always in town for Easter, so family time and a big meal were also part of the celebration every Easter.
When I was in college, I began studying the Biblical account of Easter. I began to understand what it means to a Christian. And I have to tell you, I felt like I had been cheated out of the most important thing I could ever have known. Our parents did the best they could with what they had, I suppose. Sadly, if one is not raised with certain beliefs, one must learn them on one's own. I did, and I'm grateful.
As I said though, Easter baskets and hiding eggs and cooking a big Easter ham are traditions I'll uphold until the day I die, or for as long as I can, anyway. These trappings hold fond memories for me, even though they are a man-made celebration of what is a most holy event. I've wondered over the years – struggled, really – about whether carrying on those secular traditions somehow cheapens my observance of such a holy occurrence. I have come to the conclusion that no, surprising our children, and now our grandchild, with an Easter basket does not cheapen the meaning of the holiday.
We've always explained to our children what the day really means. They have been taught in church the reason that we celebrate Easter. And I'm proud to say that in no way have I ever tried to work the Easter bunny into scriptural accounts of the holy week. Truthfully, I'm not sure where that tradition came from; bunnies are cute, but that's where my knowledge of them ends. I have never told my children that colorful eggs celebrate anything but the fun of dyeing eggs pretty colors in the spring.
Incidentally, when you were a kid back in the 50s and 60s, did your parents ever refrigerate the dyed eggs? Neither did mine. We'd hide them again and again, letting them broil under the hot sun in the yard, stopping every now and then to peel one and eat it. Throughout the following week, we'd select one, peel it and munch on it. What were we thinking? I never ate boiled eggs at any other time throughout the year, but during Easter week, they were my favorite food. How in earth did we live to tell about it?
This past Easter was wonderful. Most of our children were home, and the day was low-key and enjoyable. We, of course, celebrated the real reason for Easter at church, and the service was lovely. And when we got home, I unwrapped the chocolate bunny in the family Easter basket I had prepared, and I bit off his ears because of that, my friends, is a tradition that is celebrated in every home. I feel sure of it.
Here's to hoping that, no matter why or how your family observes the Easter holiday, it was filled with love and with those who love you.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published in 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her previous three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family and life in her beloved South.