Easter with All the Trappings

While I celebrate Easter as a Christian, I also appreciate its spring celebration aspects as well. Needless to say, rabbits and eggs are much more about fertility than Jesus. So somewhere between the seasonal, commercial, and religious, we celebrated Easter in its many weird forms.

We were partly motivated by my in-laws visiting for the weekend. Because it was too cold to do anything outside, my mother-in-law wanted Sprout to get photos with the Easter Bunny. While I have conflicting feelings about Santa, I’m just apathetic about the Bunny. Considering Sprout’s highly negative reaction to Santa at Christmas, I didn’t have high hopes for the Bunny. I was mostly right. Sprout stood calmly in front of the Bunny, leaning forward to peer at him from a foot or two away. But when we tried to put him on the Bunny’s lap, a wordless look of panic crossed his face. He held out his arms, looked at me and pleaded, “Mama mama!” After only a few moments, I declared it a lost cause and picked him up. I’m not going to try to convince my kid to grin when he’s terrified. The photographer got in one photo before he got properly upset, but he’s far from smiling. My mother-in-law was happy with it though, which was enough for me.

Our other Easter activity that day – dyeing eggs – went over much better. Sprout knows the word “egg” and is starting to learn his colors, so it combined two exciting things for him. I’m not sure, but I think he jumped to the conclusion that the different shades of colored water were paint. (He’s familiar with the idea from the book Mouse Paint, where white mice jump into jars of paint and mix them together.) So when we showed him what happened when you drop a white egg in colored water, much like a white mouse climbing into paint, he caught on very quickly. Despite our cautions to be “gentle, gentle,” he dropped almost every egg into its respective cup of water from a substantial height. Of course, he managed to avoid getting splashed – it all ended up on my mother-in-law’s shirt instead. Thankfully, food coloring does wash out.

The next morning, our dyeing paid off, despite my initial hesitation. While I was afraid Sprout was going to step on them, my mother-in-law convinced me to do a gentle introduction to egg hunting with him on Easter morning. We spread the eggs out on the rug and gave him the carton to put them in. He methodically picked up each egg, looked it as we named the color, and placed it neatly in the carton. The adults actually came much closer to stepping on the eggs than he did! His basket was filled with plastic eggs, which he also loved playing with. Even now, he’s constantly picking them up, opening and closing them and putting them back in the basket. Woe to me for thinking a toddler wouldn’t like filling something up and dumping it back out!

Sprout only received one Easter basket, filled to the brim with sweets. I knew that my in-laws were going to give him candy – even though they knew we would eat most of it – so I didn’t want to do that as well. Besides, candy is one of those things I won’t bother giving him until he asks for it. Instead, I bought him two spring related presents – a set of real gardening tools made for children and the complete collection of Beatrix Potter stories. Both are fabulous, although I severely underestimated how much of a tome the stories were. Hopefully he’ll understand that we can’t read them all in one pre-bedtime session!

After we opened baskets, it was time to go to church. While we had family Easter egg hunts in the past, we included the general public this year for the first time as an outreach event. One of the other church members brought 200 eggs to hide, which I thought was going to be more than enough. Of course, any time you’re overly confident about something, it backfires spectacularly. Much to my surprise, 10 minutes before the hunt was supposed to start, we had a tremendous group of children and parents all over our front churchyard. And a bunch of kids were putting eggs in baskets before I had the chance to say, “Go!” In literally less than 5 minutes, all of the eggs were gone. Knowing that other families were going to show up a little late, I scrounged eggs from Sprout’s basket and that of the church kids’ and re-hid them so they would at least have something to look for. Thankfully, the same folks who brought the eggs also brought extra goodie bags of random toys and candy, so all of the kids that had very few to hunt for at least got goodie bags. We also had a plethora of sweets, so my fellow-church goer Jan made sure every kid got a cookie or cupcake. Thank goodness for extra cookies. I still felt terrible when we had to tell families that there weren’t any eggs left though. At least we have some lessons learned for next year.

The day finished off with dinner at a restaurant modeled after an Adirondack or Rocky Mountains lodge, all wood crossbeams and duck decoys. My father-in-law – who is a pickier eater than Sprout – enjoys the food and the decor. Plus, as Sprout loves running up and down a ramp it has decorated with twinkle lights, we acquiesced to his request of “walk, walk!” several times. He also managed to put away a truly ungodly amount of macaroni and cheese.

Except for a few bobbles, our Easter turned out pretty darn well.

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