I’m not really a fan of Easter. When I was a kid, it was a semi-holiday, somehow not as awesome or as important as Christmas and Halloween. Christmas and Halloween had all that preparation and excitement leading up to the day, so much so that it was almost impossible for the day to live up to the hype. Easter seemed to be an afterthought.
My parents would take some pussy willow branches with their soft spring buds and stick them in a decorative, foam-filled vase. They would hang delicate painted ornaments purchased in Germany, pretty little wooden eggs and butterflies and birds and such. Of course, my kid sister and I would help, but it wasn’t the big exciting dramatic spectacle of a family affair that decorating the Christmas tree was.
We had Easter baskets and fake grass. The night before Easter, the baskets fluffed with fake grass would be set out on the table in a row, and the next morning dad would have filled them with candy — brightly wrapped mini chocolate eggs, those candy speckled eggs, Cadbury eggs, sugar-frosted peeps, chocolate bunnies, and so on and so forth. There would sometimes be a small toy, book, or stuffed animal, too.
|Same general idea, but we got more stuff and our fake grass was green.
Then we would go to church. Easter service in the LDS church is pretty run of the mill, but with a bit of extra emphasis on the whole resurrection thing. In general, LDS church services don’t deviate much from the standard. You might get flowers passed out on Mother’s Day or and extra helping of Christmas hymns in December, but overall they’re all structured pretty much the same and consist of the same general types of lessons.
|Even the hair hasn’t changed, swear to god.
I didn’t stop celebrating Easter because I went atheist, or even because I left the church. I stopped celebrating Easter long before that. When my son was born, I tried to half-heartedly toss some Easter celebrations out, but there’s a certain age threshold kids need to be at before they really get what a holiday is about, and before their anticipation and excitement becomes a thing of delight. It just seemed lame and stupid to push an over-stuffed Easter basket of candy and toys at a baby who couldn’t eat the candy and didn’t understand the toys, and after the first year or so I just kind of . . . forgot. Easter always seems to sneak up on me, and I simply never remembered ahead of time to prepare anything.
In recent years, I’ve heard about some fun-loving people who are taking the more secular, fun aspects of Easter and incorporating them into “Zombie Jesus” festivals, with zombie-themed egg hunts and zombie-painted eggs and zombie rabbits.
I love this idea and find it utterly hilarious, but I don’t know enough atheist parents to put together a zombie egg hunt, and I’ve noticed that even quasi-religious people who approach the whole belief thing with a lassez-faire attitude lose their sense of humor when you refer to a freshly-dead yet newly-risen savior as a zombie.
However, I have noticed something tangential to Easter celebrations — I tend to look down on store-boughten assembled Easter baskets as “lazy” and a “waste of money.” It’s the same gut reaction I have to store-boughten birthday (or other special occasion) cakes, store-boughten Halloween costumes, store-boughten Christmas stockings, and store-boughten cookies or pre-cooked meals. It’s weird. I think it’s directly related to my upbringing, honestly — like I said earlier, we used the same Easter baskets year after year, and my dad hand-picked the Easter goodies and gifts for each child and basket — a kid who liked Peeps would get more Peeps, while the child who loved Cadbury eggs would get an extra one.
That’s how everything was with my family. I think it started out as a way to save money what with 5 kids and all, but it ended up being these amazing, personalized memories. Every year, mom would ask our birthday cake request, and bake us the cake of our choosing. Our Halloween costumes were home-made, sewn by mom on her sewing machine or hastily assembled by dad from paper bags. Our Christmas stockings, like our Easter Baskets, were stuffed with hand-picked, personalized treats. My parents made meals at home, and if we were going to pay money for a pre-cooked meal, we damn well went out to a sit-down restaurant and had a nice family treat.
By the way, no actual judgment if you don’t assemble hand-made treats and costumes and goodies for your family. When I was faced with creating Kidling’s holiday memories, I tried gamely to do the whole hand-picked, special memories thing, but I finally admitted to myself that in certain areas I simply didn’t have the will or know-how to do things like my parents did, and instead I take the store-bought or just-don’t-do it route with some things:
- Buy Halloween costumes from Costco
- I don’t buy pre-made Easter baskets . . . but I don’t make home-made ones either. I reluctantly accept pre-made Easter baskets given to Kidling, but I tend to think they’re cheap and sad. More fake grass than gifts.
In other areas, I try to do it mostly home-grown, like my parents would — but I will opt for store-boughten when I feel it makes it easier/ less stressful for everyone involved:
- I normally make home-made specialized birthday cakes . . . but I also let Kidling choose a Chuckie Cheese party 2 years in a row, and I didn’t make special cakes those years.
- I cook home-made meals from scratch . . . but occasionally when I’m exhausted/ lazy and don’t feel up to public interactions, I send John to buy a pre-made meal from the Costco deli or Papa Murphy’s.
I think what it really comes down to is that I grew up in a big, rollicking family. At Easter, we’d compare baskets and tease and steal each other’s goodies. On birthdays, mom and dad went out of their way to make the birthday boy/ girl feel special and in the spotlight. On Christmas all 7 of us took turns opening gifts and teasing each other, and by the end the living room was a sea of crumpled wrapping paper and ribbon and we were all laughing. Then we’d repair to our various rooms/ locations to explore our new possessions, which took a few hours given that we’d each received a minimum of 6 gifts, and usually more (from “Santa,” grandparents, and aunts/uncles).
In comparison, my household these days has 3 people. Holidays and birthdays are low-key, when they’re celebrated at all. My husband seems to think celebrating holidays is pointless, and I’m not really sure where that comes from, but I suspect he doesn’t have similar fond childhood memories. Anyway, celebrations are still fun, but in a quieter, more low-key sort of way. It’s been a weird adjustment for me, but it’s a natural result of having fewer people to celebrate with. On the one hand, my day-to-day existence is a lot more peaceful, but on the other, holidays always seem kind of . . . deflated.