Holiday traditions are an important part of growing up. I remember Easter being a time of chocolate bunnies, black paten leather shoes, and coloring eggs in every shade of pastel blue, pink, and green. On Easter Sunday morning before church, we had to eat one of those hard boiled eggs and a piece of fruit before we could dive into our chocolate bunnies. With seven kids and not much money, we each got one chocolate rabbit on a stick, and we couldn’t wait to bite the ears off that sucker. Of course there were jelly beans and peeps, but that rabbit on a stick was something I looked forward to. It was mine and it was special. I knew it had come from a magical place called Crand’s Candy Castle, a local chocolatier that had stood for seventy-five years, even though my mom tried to convince me otherwise.
Somewhere along the line, Easter became a time for gift giving. Like Santa at Christmas, the Easter Bunny would “visit” our house and leave candy and presents. Chalk it up to consumerism, advertising, or simply a byproduct of the current climate when we have become conditioned to think that our children need material goods to show them that we love them. I fell into this habit myself when my children were small—even though I couldn’t afford much. As a single parent, I spent a lot of time trying to make up for what I couldn’t give my children—which was a decent father. I think parents feel guilt for many reasons and that this is what compels us to “materialize” our love and affection. Maybe we think we work too much, or that we aren’t there enough for our kids, or maybe we feel guilty for our broken family units. It’s even quite possible that we’ve fallen into the trap of wanting to “fit in,” just like our kids.
Whatever the reason, we’ve managed to make every holiday an occasion to give gifts. In and of itself, I don’t think this is wrong. It makes the holiday special and is an opportunity to celebrate the day in a fun and entertaining way. Although you might be tempted to go to extremes in keeping up with the cultural norms and giving your kid an i-pad, a new video game, or the latest techno-gadget for Easter, maybe it’s time to think about downsizing the holiday gifts to something small and meaningful. And instead of all the sugary treats, you could fill their baskets with something healthy. Maybe this holiday is an opportunity to show our children what’s really important.
Perhaps you and your children could go trough their toys , clean them up, and regift them to a local charity or children’s home. There are still orphanages and state homes where kids without families would so appreciate having an Easter basket of their own on Sunday morning. I think the greatest gift we can give our children is a sense of compassion and civic mindedness.
If you’re still determined not to disappoint your kids on Easter morning, here are some inexpensive and fun ideas:
For younger kids: A kite, a board game, sporting equipment, or a small stuffed animal or story book.
Teens: A $5-10 Amazon or B&N gift card, or an actual book if they don’t have a Nook or Kindle, an I-tunes gift card, or a journal.
Really, it’s the little things that count. Think of what they love to do and then share a small gift that shows you know what’s important to them.
Do yourself and your child a favor and skip the peeps and jelly beans (unless you plan to include a toothbrush and dental floss). Go with the hard boiled eggs and fruit instead. Oh, and I highly recommend a chocolate bunny on a stick–preferably the homemade kind that comes from the magical chocolatier.