Did anyone notice that the Easter candy arrived at the same time (or earlier) than Valentine’s candy? I know we joke about Christmas in July, but I am not so sure how I feel about Easter in January, even though the hope and joy of a risen Jesus Christ is worth celebrating every day.
What I’m not so sure about is the drawn out bombardment of the Easter bunny, spreading his marketing agenda through children’s cartoons, billboards and aisle endcaps – obviously targeting children, parent and grandparents.
Now, I’m no bunny-hater – I grew up celebrating Jesus’ resurrection at church, with a basket of Easter treats at home. ‘The bunny’ hid eggs and treats all over our house (because usually MN Easter is cold and snowy or very wet) and we enjoyed many challenging egg hunts as a family. We dyed eggs and I have very fond memories of all aspects of Easter and the childhood wonder that goes with it.
What I struggle with is how to embrace both the bunny and Jesus with a consistent, Christ-centered message. I want Easter to be so much more meaningful to our children than a day celebrating a bunny, hopping from house to house, leaving eggs filled with candy. Up until this year, we’ve kind of avoided the issue. Last year our son was 3 and participated in an egg hunt but there had been little talk about the actual bunny.
It has never been our intent to shelter our children from the bunny entirely. Plus, sheltering from the bunny is simply not practical, and perhaps not even possible. The Easter Bunny is a dug in, popular figure who isn’t going ANYWHERE. The way I see it, the bunny and I are going to have to find a way to co-exist, and I’d rather it benefit our children by pointing them towards Jesus. Easter means so much to me, I long for them to feel the same way, long after the childhood wonder of the bunny has worn off.
When our son learned about Easter at preschool last Thursday, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Since the preschool is in a church, I was hoping what he learned would be in line with what our family believes. When I picked him up, he had decorated a cute little white bag with a face and ears like a bunny. He was extremely amped up and excited to see what the Easter Bunny had left in the bag while they were outside playing.
I thought…uh-oh. We haven’t talked about the Easter bunny yet. But I was blessed and pleasantly surprised to see the careful and intentional instruction of his preschool teachers. Inside the bag were 3 small (nut-free!) treats, some of that fake grass (annoyingly messy, static-charged, impossible to clean up…but I digress), and one easter egg with a heart sticker on the outside.
The egg was empty.
I asked my son, why is the egg empty? With delight in his voice, he told me what he had learned at school:
“It’s empty because Jesus isn’t in there anymore! He’s alive! It has a heart on it because Jesus is in my heart” (let’s talk about how these words make MY heart leap for joy). Then, “Easter isn’t about candy or the Easter ‘rabbit’, Mom, it’s about Jesus”.
If he’d have been a teenager, I’m sure his final, matter-of-fact statement would have been followed by “Duh” by the tone he used. For now, I’m glad he doesn’t know that term yet.
While we’ve been talking about Easter and Jesus’ death and resurrection for weeks, with reinforcement from Sunday School, this is the first time he really seemed to be able to verbalize it. I was amazed to hear him profess how the Easter bunny wasn’t at the heart of Easter. We’ll see how he feels on Sunday after he gets his basket, but for now, this is a good start.
Friday morning, he informed me that if we don’t have a bag or basket to leave out for the ‘rabbit’, he won’t come. He reasoned, “We need to get one. For baby (his sister), too”. As in, right now.
SO, off we went to Target so he could pick out two buckets with shovels to use as ‘baskets’ this year. He wanted nothing to do with a true basket, because “you can’t play with it. It might break.” I found this logic to be pretty smart, and forward-thinking for a 4-year-old.
While I wasn’t sure how we would embrace the Easter bunny, I see no harm in using ‘the bunny’ to educate our children about Jesus and the true meaning of Easter. This year, ‘The Easter Bunny’ is planning to give our son the book, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones in his Easter Basket. It is our plan for our family to read the book together as a family devotional every evening after dinner.
Other book ideas for ‘the bunny’ to put in your little one’s Easter baskets include:
- God Never Changes board book, given to our 1-year-old daughter last year for Easter. It is one of a set of “Learn about God Books” by Carine Mackenzie that teach about God’s character (others include: God is Kind, God Knows Everything, God Has Power, God is Everywhere, and God is Faithful). The books are simple, and appropriate for toddlers up to preschoolers
- The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name – give it this year, and next year you can follow this reading plan and read the entire book in the 44 days leading up to Easter
- We used Lily’s Easter Party: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs by Crystal Bowman last year in place of the provided story that came with our resurrection eggs. The provided story was obviously aimed at older children and did not keep the attention of a 3-year-old. This book was simple, straight-forward, and he loved every bit of it. We read it over, and over, and over…
- A family favorite, The Rhyme Bible Storybook is another great option, written by L. J. Sattgast
Given our son’s new-found understanding of the Easter bunny, I figured I better get my act together. I spent the past few days, searching for other, free ideas to incorporate into the next couple days, and to plan for in future years.
For a wealth of great Easter ideas, I recommend you pop on over to the Happy Home Fairy – the blog is filled with simple and great free printables and activities. While we won’t be doing all of these activities this year, I pinned a bunch of them on my Easter Pinterest board to use in the future. In particular, I liked:
- The Real Easter Bunny printable – this will be in our son’s basket this year and in years to come
- You’ve Been Egged printable and activity idea – found too late for this year but am going to do this next year for sure!
- Easter Morning Scavenger Hunt idea and printable
- No Bunny Loves You Like Jesus printable
Other options from other websites to use for Easter baskets or activities include:
- For older children, these ABC Printable Scripture Cards from I Can Teach My Child are simple and impactful
- He is Risen free printable from One Dog Woof
- Easter M&M’s Poem Tags free printable from UCreate blog
- Easter Subway Printable Collection from A Night Owl blog
- He Lives Chalkboard Typography free printable from Everyday Mom Ideas
- Countdown to Easter boxes from Just A Girl And Her Blog (for next year)
- No Bunny Loves You Like Jesus free printable to relabel bunny peeps – so cute! from Detail Oriented Diva
What are your best go-to ways to discuss the ‘bunny’ and Jesus at your house?
He is Risen, Indeed!