Maybe you’re one of those families that gives Easter baskets to their children to celebrate some defunct Roman deity. You know what I’m talking about. The eggs, the beans, the chick, the bunnies — they’re all signs of your secret allegiance to some long-forgotten fertility goddess. Admit it! You’re a secret Satan worshipper!
Or maybe it’s just the chocolate.
Having lived my entire life in Evangelical Christian circles, I’ve heard all the arguments for and against giving Easter baskets to your children to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I understand all the historical allusions to false gods, fertility, and all that. I don’t think we got Easter baskets when we were children because of it. And I know some might say that giving kids tasty treats is really just a way to waste money and prop up the local dentist at the same time.
Yet, in spite of the many arguments against it, we do give Easter baskets to our children. Here’s why.
Special Is as Special Does
For us, it’s about making the day special. Easter baskets with sweet treats — something they don’t get often — connects the vital commemoration with more of their senses.
It also connects in a deeper way with their emotions. For example, because money has been in short supply of late, my one daughter became quite emotional at the thought of not having Easter baskets this year. “It’s our family tradition!” That’s how she put it. It’s part of our family culture to begin Easter morning with a family quest to find the basket of sweet treats. And I see that connection as good thing, because the Resurrection is the sweetest of events that we should look forward to to celebrating with great anticipation.
It’s the same reason we have intentionally cultivated the tradition of hanging stockings from the mantle each Christmas Eve — right next to our “pagan” Christmas tree — and having our kids awake to find the stockings stuffed with goodies of all sorts. We don’t do it for much in life, but the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ are worth highlighting. All of history pivots upon them. We want our children at an early age to eagerly anticipate their celebration.
Our Easter Morning Tradition
As they get older, they’ll discover more of the eternal satisfaction beyond just the temporary sweetness of the chocolate.
Each Easter morning, the kids gather on our bed to talk about the Resurrection. We intentionally bought a king-size bed long before we had kids just so we could one day create times like that. After asking, discussing, and sharing thoughts on the significance of the Resurrection, we turn them loose to find the baskets we hid throughout the house. No, there is no claim that the Easter Bunny is responsible. Just like Santa doesn’t fill the stockings. (Sorry if I just ruined that one for you.) It’s about God as the giver of all good gifts.
Giving Easter baskets in this way also allows us to re-enact the surprise that rippled through all Creation that first Easter morn. The surprise my kids experience as they uncover the location and content of their Easter baskets is appropriate as we commemorate how God revealed the mystery of His redemptive plan that, apparently, even the great Deceiver had missed.
Imagine the rejoicing of the forces of darkness on that tense Holy Saturday while all of Creation held its breath, trying to make sense of this turn in the plot. Imagine the tension as those angels in the know tried to keep it to themselves. Imagine then what it must have been like in heaven as the angelic hosts whispered the final countdown alongside the throne of the Father.
3 — 2 — 1 — Wait for it!
Let the stone roll. Let my Son arise.
And death is swallowed up in victory!
Gulp! Just like swallowing a squished jelly bean.
Talk about a surprise!
By giving our children Easter baskets, we try to capture but a shadow of that surprise. We then intentionally help them connect with the divine story that took the world by surprise that glorious Easter morn.
Out of — and into — the Mouth of Babes
This morning, one of my kids put it like this: “We get Easter baskets because candy is sweet like Jesus and then it dissolves away like Jesus when he died.” Not bad. But it’s even more like the everlasting gobstopper. Just when you think it’s got to be finished, turns out it’s stronger than ever and just getting started.
Ya, it’s kind of like that.
We think it’s good to create traditions that make much of what God celebrates. It doesn’t have to be candy or Easter baskets, of course. But I think our kids need to know that following Christ is a fun thing at times. It is a cause for celebration. And being part of the family of God has privileges.
Being part of our own family has privileges. We often identify ourselves as the most awesome family in the world — no offense — because we want them to know how special it is. It’s for that same reason we’ve invested in Disney trips and road trips with our kids and in carving out a cool backyard with the world’s biggest sand box and taking hikes into the unknown woods without enough food water where we have to come together to make it back to the van. ( “Ohana means family. And family means no one gets left behind.”)
Some may see Easter baskets as not essential. I disagree. At least for our family. Culture is in the details. Just ask Disney. The culture we’re trying to intentionally grow in our family is one that, if it celebrates anything, celebrates Christ’s coming to earth, dying for our sins, and rising again as victorious over death.
That’s pretty sweet. And that’s why we give Easter baskets to our children.
Do you give Easter baskets to your kids or did you get them when you were a child? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts or story.