I have a confession to make.
Hi. I'm Whitney. And I prefer Easter over Christmas.
I certainly adore Christmas- the lights, the food, the gifts, the traditions. And I feel the spirit very strongly during the season. But OH MY HECK is it a ton of work. If you know me, you know that I'm a minimalist, I'm a homebody, and I'm cheap. Christmas stretches me.
But then there's Easter (happy sigh).
I feel the spirit of Christ SO strongly during Easter time, and I don't have to do HALF the work or spend HALF the money or leave my house HALF as often as I do at Christmas. I absolutely love it.
I love walking with the Savior through the last week of His life. I love the excitement of Palm Sunday. I ache for Him in Thursday's garden. I feel sick to my stomach all day on Good Friday. And then, when Sunday morning FINALLY comes, I walk into my chapel and cry. I feel SUCH relief that His suffering is over and I want to throw my hands in the air and yell, "Hallelujah! HE IS RISEN!!"
Oh, I love Easter.
I want my kids to love it too, for the same reasons I do. And because of that, I want everything we do on Easter to connect to Christ. I've heard of some families who do their Easter eggs hunts and Easter baskets on Saturday, so Sunday morning can be focused on Christ. I considered that, but decided that might make me a little sad. I really want my kids to look forward to Easter SUNDAY more than the Saturday-before-Easter-Sunday. I want Easter SUNDAY to be the big deal-- but not because of Blu-ray discs or bubbles or candy. I want my kids to go to bed Saturday night with butterflies in their tummies because they're excited to celebrate the resurrection.
But how? How do we keep the excitement of Easter, PLUS the spirit of Christ, MINUS the commercialism?
It’s a tricky equation, and the answer is surely different for every family. But I'd love to share with you one of the things we do in OUR family:
Jesus Baskets look a lot like Easter baskets. They are full of color and candy and eggs. But everything in a Jesus Basket is either a symbol OF, or brings us closer TO Christ (did I not just sound like Elder Bednar there??) The idea is to replace the trinkets, toys, bubbles, jump ropes, money, plane tickets (or whatever it is kids are getting in their baskets these days) with items that have a connection to the Savior.
Here are some examples of items you could include in a Jesus Basket: -scripture bookmark -CTR ring, wristband, or necklace -hand written testimony of Christ from each parent -small picture of Christ to hang on their mirror or locker -new journal -talk on cd (John Hilton III and Hank Smith are my kids' favorites) -tithing bank -scripture marking pencils -Christ centered/uplifting music or movie -picture book of Christ -new tie/tie tack/hair bow for church -quiet book for church -package of thank you notes -new scripture case -picture of the temple for their bedroom -Christ or scripture themed puzzle or game -mini-copy of Preach My Gospel (have you seen these? 4 bucks. And adorable.) -mission prep, priesthood prep, or baptism prep materials -pocket sized hymn book -pack of pass along cards -mom-and-me journal -gospel centered book (there are SO MANY fun gospel books for teens and kids. See?) -magnets to hang primary/nursery coloring pages on the fridge -white handkerchief for temple dedications -blank family pedigree chart and a fun pen -collection of family history stories -stationary to write letter to Grandma or missionaries -scripture hero action figures -scripture activity books (dot to dots, crossword puzzles, etc) -Jesus/temple/scripture stickers -prayer rock or rug
And of course, you add lots of candy, eggs, and the annoying Easter grass that ends up all over the house. I always have so much fun daydreaming about what to put in our Jesus Baskets.
Obviously this can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. I can already see Crafty Mom working on her scripture cases made from Capri Sun pouches. And Coupon Mom is going to think of lots of things she can do for free or cheap. The possibilities are endless! Before we began doing Jesus Baskets, I discovered how easy it was to spend a ridiculous amount on candy and cheap little toys and trinkets. I would much rather spend my money and time on meaningful items that point to Christ.
One last confession: My kids love this tradition so much that my husband and I decided we didn't really need the Easter Bunny anymore. I have ZERO problem with the bunny, but honestly, one less pretend-holiday character makes my life easier (I’m not Holiday Mom, remember?) If the EB is a cherished member of YOUR family, you could just have HIM deliver the Jesus Baskets. Easy peasy.
In a nutshell (eggshell?), Jesus Baskets help our family celebrate Christ. His life, His teachings, His love, His atonement, and His resurrection. My kids look forward to their baskets on Sunday morning, and I love having our thoughts and hearts turned to Him long before we arrive at church. Are you doing a happy sigh right now? Ahhhhh. I can almost taste the peeps.
Have a beautiful Easter.