Easter was yesterday and I realized I’m probably going to Hell. We are not religious in any way and I kind of felt bad that I had no idea how to explain this holy holiday to my children. My dad’s family is Catholic, my mom is a Buddhist of sorts and my in-laws are nothing that I know of. My husband went to a Catholic High School, but only to get to go to school outside of the small town he grew up in. So that leaves us bereft of any real religious upbringing. I remember being read the story of Easter by a family friend one year and being shocked that that was what we were celebrating. How did the crucifixion and rebirth of this Jesus guy have anything to do with the Easter Bunny, the colored eggs and all that candy? This year, I found myself asking those same questions as an adult trying to explain them to my four year old.
A few nights before Easter, my four year old started asking questions about Easter. This was the first year she really understood anything about holidays so it is also the first year I’ve found myself having to explain them. Before bed one night, I found myself telling her in 4 year old terms about Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection being a part of this day filled with candy and bunnies. “Well, he wasn’t really dead then- he was asleep,” she told me. Uncomfortable with discussing death, I replied with a super smart, “Um, ya, sure kid- go to sleep”. So hard to explain all the symbolism that I honestly don’t get myself! The next night I told her Easter was a religious holiday and since we are not religious, we don’t really understand about all of the parts people celebrate. “Well, why aren’t we religious?” she replied, “Because we don’t believe in any one set God or way of worship, (we do believe and teach her that there is a God, we just don’t describe him in traditional religious terms), and we don’t go to church,” I said, feeling totally uneducated about what religion really even is. “Well, I want to go to church,” she told me ( we go inside a really cool church during a monthly summer car show in town and she really likes exploring it). “Well, Shit,” I thought. Again- “Um, ya sure kid- just go to sleep.” Feeling totally inadequate to explain the importance of religious holidays to myself, let alone my kids, I rested my own head and gave up trying to understand the religious significance of the day.
Then came trying to figure out the traditions of Easter that my family did traditionally practice. I was stumped there too! Where was I all of my childhood Easter years?! On Easter Eve, I put all of the candies, books and toys into my children’s Easter baskets and promptly started to panic because I realized I didn’t actually know what the Hell the Easter bunny was supposed to do– did I hide the basket, did we do a scavenger hunt, how did I explain how he got into our house to do these things? Did he or she hide the eggs too or would that look weird since she knew we had dyed those ourselves? I started googling for answers only to be redirected to the historical and religious meanings for these damn traditions- I had already given up on those associations, I was SOL for sure! I posted quickly on Facebook to try to get some input from like minded mothers and got a good laugh and a few suggestions- but most importantly, I found out I’m not alone. No one really knows what this shit is about and we all just make it up as we go along. The lesson in motherhood I keep learning is we’re all doing the best we can with what we have.
So, I made a little scavenger hunt, hid some eggs and some baskets, scattered some chocolate “bunny poop” around the house, ate the evidence and waited for her to wake up. In the morning, she proudly proclaimed that the bunny poop didn’t even smell and raced around after her clues to find her basket. She didn’t ask any of the tough questions and I dodged a bullet for another year. The sugar high that ensued definitely had me wishing I’d skipped the candy tradition and made our own with baskets full of wooden toys and baby teethers, but, the candy was the one part of Easter I was quite sure was obligatory, so candy for breakfast it is. And maybe I’m going to Hell, but I’m gonna have a good laugh at myself on the way.