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Happy Easter! What's In Your Basket?

My nine-year-old, the skeptic, and I had a long discussion about Easter last night, pondering the historical fact, faith, and pagan ritual origins of Easter -- and how odd it was that so much of America, excepting those of Jewish faith among us, celebrate it with a kind of crazy mashup of rebirth/fertility/crucifixion. The very name 'Easter' comes from a Germanic pagan goddess, 'Ostara,' and hares are a pagan and medieval fertility symbol. At least according to Wikipedia. (We also learned that rabbits and hares can conceive while already pregnant with a litter. Insane!)

So, it was with this jaded, somewhat secular, perspective that I began idly browsing through casual friends' Instagram photos late last night. Oh my: what was here made even my Christmas stockings and Santa rituals look impoverished. A basket for every kid, for starters, most of them stocked with actual bags of candy, 12"-high chocolate rabbits, toys, and (evidently) plastic eggs filled with more toys and cash. Whoa. I'd spent $6 on Easter candy at Trader Joe's, and I had a little box of Jelly Belly beans my husband bought when he was home on leave.

I knitted an Easter basket several years ago, and it's pretty and I use it once a year, so there won't be another two joining it. This is Easter: one basket, six bucks. I was so humbled by other mama's Easter offerings, I didn't even fill the basket until after I made my coffee and washed the dishes this morning. My kids seemed perfectly happy. (I felt especially anti-social after my husband left this time, so we won't have an opportunity to compare Easter hauls until Monday!)

This morning, last night's Easter basket filling photos were joined with photos of happy, bleary kids and thank-you notes from the Easter Bunny (next to a plate of baby carrots) and living rooms littered with empty eggs and candy wrappers. Somehow, I'd just forgotten that this happened, and it took me by surprise in my current emotional state of skepticism, social avoidance and cash-poverty. We made French toast. We finished our carrot garlands. I put on my clothes for a run. I felt -- guilty and crochety.

I wonder: what's in your Easter basket? I know there are lots of secular mamas and Jewish families in our audience, in addition to lots of faithful church-goers, and I'd love to hear what you think of this holiday, and what you had waiting for your kids this morning.


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My kids use the same basket every year. I try to find them some vegan chocolate Easter type thing. This year they also got some gum and some of the communal jellybeans. I like to get them outside things, like seeds. This year I found cheap, small (like 4 inches) garden gnomes and rainbow whirligigs at Joanns Fabric!

My kids have baskets that Grandma got for them - and on Easter the bunny fills them with some candy (a big treat since we don't usually eat candy) and small toys. I spend about $20 per child for bubbles, small toys/stuffed animals, maybe a DVD, a book, etc. We put jelly beans in eggs and hide them around the living room for the kids to find. My kids also get new, dressy spring outfits and sandals for Easter.

I used my grandmother's basket that we used to collect eggs from her chickens with. It's an old family basket well used and worn. My husband and I colored 2 dozen eggs last night, and hid them around the living room. Our son is 9 months, so he doesn't need much, but our dream is to avoid candy as long as possible. We'll see, but have to say I love your basket and the minimal approach in general. Holidays have always struck me as kind of strange, and the more I learn about how bad sugar is for people and the huge diabetes epidemic in the US, I have to question the lovingness of giving candy at holidays. Not a popular stance, I'm sure. Since my best memories of the holiday were not so much about the loot as they were about the way the day was different, colorful and fun, I hope to try and create experiences that are fun and not based on the stuff. that's what carried over into my adulthood - the uniqueness of the day...teaching someone how to celebrate is an interesting task. Exactly what are we celebrating? I guess for us, it's the beauty of spring, nature and life. Thank you for asking!

Arranged basket from See's (with the promise we could share). Some new toys, cause with our one kid we tend to do it, to it with the Holidays.

We are Catholic, so we have been observing Lent and we celebrate the religious significance of Easter. We've gone to various church events over the past few days, and spend today mostly relaxing and enjoying the secular part of Easter with baskets and hidden eggs. We have a nice family meal planned for dinner. We have talked about the variety of celebrations going on this time of year, each having as much value to the people who celebrate them as our traditions have to us. Our baskets are pretty minimal, reused each year, with just some fun little trinkets in it and a little candy.

As a Jew, I must say that I am relieved to not have to deal with the commercialized hype of the Easter Bunny and all the junky crap--and bad chocolate--that people seem compelled to buy. Never missed it as a child. Although I do enjoy a good hot cross bun, give me Passover, matzah and four glasses of wine any day!

We went pretty over the top today. Sort of like Christmas morning with the kids up early to find their baskets and hunt for eggs around the house. Then we were off to another Easter egg hunt at Grandma's. I bet they have four pounds of candy each (that's what is left over after much indulgence). Grandma likes to put money in her eggs instead of candy, so they got around $10 each as well. I know it's over the top, but a family tradition that I enjoyed very much as a child. We keep the eggs and baskets and grass from year to year, so it's not a huge financial hit for us.

At our house the Easter bunny always brings a DVD (this year The Muppets), a few coins or dollar bills, a puzzle, and some candy (usually m&ms, a chocolate bunny, and some mints). Grandmas, auntie, and friends might bring books (this year the Narnia series), candy, iTunes card, cash ($5-$10), greeting cards, etc. Also like sidewalk chalk and new shirts for church. We went to Easter services at St Luke Lutheran in SW PDX in AM, then had friends and family over for ham, buns, asparagus, pink wine, strawberry shortcake, etc., and a viewing of the movie Hop.

What a great Easter! What lovely garlands! Stealing for next year. Forget the crotchety.

We had a fabulous morning of waffles. And a great day in the sunshine. I got some weeding in. Yay. We don't do Easter or Passover, but I'm glad the weather was nice for you all!

We skipped the baskets and toys this year. I woke up early and made a coffee cake, and then we met up with some friends at my Mom's house. The kids (7 or 8 of them) ran around searching for eggs, the adults ate coffee cake and melon. Until we all decided that even though it was a gorgeous day, it was also a great day for a nap.

My parents used to hide our Easter baskets and then give us clues to find them...a treasure hunt if you will. There were some sweets and maybe a small toy or two but also 2-3 pairs of colorful socks balled up to look like eggs. While I hope to continue the hunt for the basket with my son when he's old enough, they just don't make as many colorful socks for boys as they do for girls! I am all for a small basket (reused year to year) with a few treats and toys that don't cost a lot of money or rot your teeth. It's my husband who impulse buys the cheap baskets half full of crap that line the aisles of the grocery store every year!

We re-use the plastic eggs and easter grass from year to year. For baskets, I actually buy the shoebox size plastic bins from Target - 5 for $3 or something, so that their Easter basket gets turned into a bin for organizing toys, art supplies, etc after the fact.

Each kid's bin had a new spring outfit (again, bought at Target, so cheap), a book, markers/pad of paper, and 2 candy eggs (starburst and jelly beans). We hid eggs around the house. Each egg is marked with their initials, so each kid gets the same amount. Eggs had some starbursts, coins (spare change from our coin jar, so no expense there), and small trinkets (girls had hair bows, boy had a couple of matchbox cars, each had a couple of squinkies).

Over lunch, I explained the religious significance around Easter, and also explained our own beliefs. Then, we spent the afternoon outside running around the zoo, soaking up the sunshine. Came home, got stuff ready for school, and made lasagna for dinner. Nothing too exciting or overboard. Just a nice day for everyone.

Oh - and I totally agree with the poster about diabetes/candy. Each child marked a ziplock bag with their name on it, put all their candy in their bag, and then the bags went up in the pantry. We only allow one piece of candy a day.

We use the same basket and plastic eggs every year. This Easter, my daughter got a stuffed animal, charms for a magnetic bracelet, and a small chocolate bunny. We put a few jelly beans in each egg and hid them around the living room. Grandparents sent cards and money. My mom gave her a little purse with lip balm and a ceramic bowl perfect for ice cream. I felt it was just right as far as sweets and material things go.

My kids are too old for egg dying and hunting and so we went to church and then each child got their basket (i use same ones every year) filled with candy and one small gift. When they were younger it was a huge deal and one year the easter bunny left a complex map that led to real bunnies that my children cared for many years. We eat alot of candy at easter but don't regularly. It's a day to indulge for us especially since we all gove things up for lent. As for the religious aspect we are Episcopalian and Easter is a joyous day when the alleluias return and lent is finally over.

@Kelly, we're now largely agnostic---but I was raised Episcopalian (my husband would be either reformed or reconstructionist Jewish) and overall still agree with most of what I was taught growing up. It kinda explains why you and I frequently seem to see arguments on this site in the very much the same vein! :-)

BTW, your hunt with the real bunnies sounds awesome. Unfortunately we've always had a dog or kitty and I'd never condemn a bunny to such an unpleasant potential end. I tend to save my surprise stuffs for Christmas.

I grew up celebrating Easter both religiously and enjoying the Easter bunny gifts left the morning of, with grandparents taking part in additional gift giving and egg hunts as well. I have a lot of happy memories areound the holiday, including picking out a special easter outfit, which was often sewn my my grandma or mom. As an adult now, neither of our parents (the grandparents now) did anything for our 2 year old son, nor even mentioned it. Neither my husband nor I are religious anymore as adults, so no services either. Since my son is only 2 and had zero concept of a Easter bunny or the fact that this day was any different than any other, we just planned a special day as a family. No candy, no services, no special outfits. We took the bikes out to the country-side in SW and ate a picnic lunch together in the sun. It was lovely and special in it's own way without being connected to a marked calendar day.

Sarah, I just had to laugh because I read your "crochety" as "crochet - y" -- as in, the urge to get out some yarn and a hook. :) I feel like that when I'm blue, too.

jm, that's how we feel about a lot of those "other peoples' holidays" ... they are nice chances to get out in nature and do something without crowds or fuss.

Amy, haha! I would be more likely to feel knitty :)

we were married Episcopalian and I was raised in the Baptist church so we always had egg hunts and Easter baskets growing up and, until the past few years (I stopped going to church after my youngest was born and it became too exhausting, one more thing to get three boys and a husband ready for, and also, the priest kicked me out of the vestry while I was pregnant for missing too many meetings and it was the last straw in a lifetime of church politics) we would have gone to church and participated in those festivities. and I'm not really shocked at the expense -- plenty of people spend way more than $40 or $50 or whatever it costs for a huge Easter spread just for brunch -- just that it seems like a lot. I get the fever at Christmas for surprises and gift giving and the whole hullabaloo of cooking at Thanksgiving and I think by March and April I just want to dig in the dirt and sweep the floor.

Phoebe: I too have been feeling exhausted by all the candy for each holiday. when I was in my young 20s, I was working for an investment bank and I kept a candy bowl at my desk for my in-their-20s-too colleagues. I remember thinking about how our candy season lasts from the first of October (Halloween) to Easter and wasn't surprised when I started seeing patriotic candy for 4th of July -- really? we need that too? -- the kids come home after just about every birthday at school with bags of candy. it's too much.

We are atheists, but both grew up in the church (me, Methodist; he, Catholic). Easter is a holiday that still seems very religiously significant so I hesitate celebrating it. - I feel like I'm stepping on Christians' toes! However, as my daughter has gotten older (she's now 4 1/2) and she is aware of the holiday, I feel like we're depriving her of the fun traditions of egg hunts and baskets from the bunny! Last year, I stuffed some plastic eggs with little toys she already owned for a backyard hunt. She was THRILLED. This year, I bought a new hat for her and used it as her "basket", which I filled with a couple of new items (make-your-own wand kit and glue) and a few gummies and lollipops we had tucked away. We made a big deal about the easter bunny, but she was most excited about the gummies! We spent the rest of the day having a leisurely breakfast (including bacon, a rare treat!) and enjoying the outdoors. My husband explained the holiday to her, framing it in terms of "some people believe".

I do not like the idea that holidays are meant as an excuse to buy a bunch of toys and candy for kids who then only learn to expect it! So, we try to be as minimalist as possible and focus on the family togetherness that holidays provide.

Reuse the baskets, grass and eggs every year, like most here. Then we do one small bag of chocolate eggs wrapped in colored foil and a dozen hardboiled, colored eggs for hiding. Each child got a little wind-up toy (2/$1), a packet of seeds for the garden, and a new rubber ducky for the bath. Then we went to church, and spent the afternoon in the sun eating dinner with family. Pretty low-key, but I guess we are the in the "bad chocolate" buying crowd. :)

I was in the procrastinators crowd, frantically searching for some bad chocolate at Fred Meyer as the store was closing Saturday night. My stepson is 11, and didn't grow up with the Easter bunny tradition or any of the religious traditions. I hid some plastic eggs for him with chocolate and a bunny. I wanted to make it hard for him, but I think it was too hard because it turned into a "hot or cold?" hunt for eggs. I seriously miscalculated, though, thinking that somehow he would realize that the chocolate in the eggs was for sharing, but instead I "accidentally" gave him two bags worth of chocolate. He did put the chocolate bunny up on the mantle for display rather than eating--right next to the chocolate Santa from Christmas!

And although not related to Easter, to pick up on the "too much sugar" theme, I was shocked this week when my stepson came home excited from school because he had won a king size bag of skittles in PE class. And PE is supposed to be Wellness class where they focus on health and exercise, and they are giving out candy!!

I was really surprised when my (Jewish) first grader came home from school on Monday and gave me a list of what all of her friends "got" for Easter, a major theme being Monster High dolls. I'm not sure why Easter is becoming the Spring Christmas. It's hard to compete, with our hard as a cardboard matzos. It's a good thing we are not trying to compete! BTW: I go nuts for Cadbury Cream and mini eggs and have no problem if my daughter does too. They are so good, and when the Easter Bunny is gone, they're gone! :)

@Debby--Easter has been the Spring Christmas for awhile, actually. I remember getting a pretty decent haul when I was a kid. And my daughter ALWAYS gets good stuff. The only reason she probably doesn't do even better is because her birthday's in early June.

It's also the third most decorated (Xmas is first, Halloween second) that my house gets. I have not yet put everything away and won't get to really decorate much at all until Labor Day....

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