Monday, April 13, 2009

Beyond the bunny

Christian-turned-consumer holidays make me cringe. President Obama may be right. We're not really a Christian nation. What we are is a nation of consumers who use Christianity as an excuse for mass consumption on the religion's most holy days.

As Danny gets older, holidays get trickier. I don't know how to balance the true meaning of the holiday with those seemingly shallow and meaningless activities that actually make up most of my and my husband's childhood memories surrounding Easter and Christmas. One day soon, our son will ask to color and hide eggs and want an Easter basket full of candy and toys. Until that day, we find ourselves wondering which traditions to introduce and which ones can wait until peer pressure foists them on us.

All last week, we danced around the issue of buying Easter paraphernalia. One of us would mention it and the other would sheepishly say something like "Why do we even hide eggs and candy?" Jim went up to the attic to see if we had any leftover Easter gear. He found two baskets and one plastic egg. Good enough. Friday morning, I hard boiled some eggs and let Danny paint them, mostly just as a fun activity. We went to Target on Friday night to scope out what was left. The shelves were pretty bare. We walked out with a few packages of our favorite candies and left it at that.

Our Easter morning was pretty low key. We went to Duke Gardens, where Danny fell into a pond. Jim caught him just in time and Danny seemed pretty unfazed by the whole ordeal. We had a nice lunch of ham, asparagus and sweet potato casserole, which Danny called "cake." Then Jim hid a few pieces of candy around the house, gave him a basket and told him to find the candy. He was delighted, but the whole hunt took all of five minutes. Seems like this would be more interesting for him with lots of other kids around, like his cousins in Maryland.

The whole experience leaves me uneasy, though. I'm uncomfortable introducing a holiday's commercial aspect before its sacred meaning. The Easter bunny story just seems so incongruant with the death and resurrection of Jesus. I'm more interested in what's real. Sure, it may seem like I'm being a killjoy and some would say my son could miss out on the essential experiences of childhood if I don't bow to the consumer gods. But I know better. What happens under our roof every day is what's real. My son wakes up with joy, real joy, in his heart every morning when he comes into our room, chatting away and looking for his baby sister and his mommy and daddy. I don't think the Easter bunny can enhance that joy, do you? For me, buying into the Easter bunny story merely cheapens Jesus's gift, the one that makes our daily joy possible. No gift on earth will ever compare to that. Ever.


Anonymous said...

My mom gave us candy and we did the egg thing, but she was always very clear that we didn't do other gifts or anything on Easter because it was a holy day. I don't feel that I missed out in anyway and today I find myself annoyed by people who try to make Easter another Christmas.--Kelley

The WilsonFam said...

We feel the same way around here. Jesus is definatly the focus for us. But we want them to have fun and view chrisianity as positive so we intergrate the fun stuff like easter egg hunts and candy (they did one at church this year and had lots of fun). We didnt do any presents or easter baskets. It is encouraging as they get older cause i can see that they are focused on what is right, ie the cross, and not the consumerism.