And now... a bit about the REAL Passion Week!
Ever notice how Easter gets a day and Christmas gets a whole month? I know we can’t debate the comparative importance of the two; chicken, egg, chicken, egg. But a man lived. The man died. The man lived again. My mind is boggled. And yet there is as much fanfare for St. Patrick’s Day. MORE for Mardi Gras. What’s a mom to do?
Here are some off-the-top-of-my-head ideas I'd like to incorporate in the years to come in the hopes that my kids will enjoy Easter as much as they do Christmas (assuming that the fluttery holiday excitement offers not only memories but a good segue into understanding the magnitude of these days).
- Decorate! If we have lights up in November, we can usher Easter in visually, too. I like to do an Easter tree: I spray-paint branches white, put them in a huge vase, and hang painted wooden eggs from the branches. This is just a launching point if I ever hope to rival the wreathes and holly...
- Anticipate! Think Advent calendars. Some Christian denominations do a better job creating hoopla about the Easter timeline than do others. Catholics have the Stations of the Cross (Here’s a website that gives you language to simplify these for kids). http://www.cptryon.org/prayer/child/stations/index.html Many Christians wind up for Easter with Lent. I’ve no experience with either of those, but next year I might try making an countdown calendar of my own that highlights the events preceding Easter: the triumphal entry, good Friday, the stuff your pastor highlights, but with little doors and of necessity, chocolate. Memorize a passage in the preceding weeks; we started Luke 2 in October this past fall; each of the gospels has a passion passage, too.
- Make Traditions! My friend hides a bunny toy around her house each day for weeks, and the kid who finds it gets a prize. You can tweak this kind of stuff to make it more Jesus, less pastel rodent.
- Eat! Food is the cement that bonds people in holiday joy. We bake for weeks leading up to Christmas. There’s plenty to do for Easter, too, and lots of it comes with built-in teaching analogies. Melt chocolate and peanut butter into bunny and cross-shaped molds for little kids. Do coconut and chocolate eggs, or those resurrection meringue cookies that come out hollow. Talk about new life as you dye eggs; just don’t eat the ones that have been sitting out for weeks.
- Start at home! On Christmases of old, my anticipation centered on the gifts more than the church service (although candlelight and cookie exchanges after Christmas Eve services did amp up the fun factor). For Easter, make a big thing of the baskets. Even bunnies and chicks, like snowmen and elves, create an atmosphere of festivity appropriate to a celebration. Sing hymns that will become as heartwarming over the years as Nat King Cole trolling about chestnuts.
What are the things you do to make this day as large in your kids’ minds as it is in yours?