Alison's Easter Summary

I decided this year, when Andrea got so excited for Christmas, that I wanted to make Easter as big a deal as Christmas for my kids.  I'm not especially into holidays, but Easter is celebrating the most important event in the history of the world, so it seemed worth some effort.  I don't know if I made it as big as Christmas, but it was a big deal in our house.

I made a list of things that make Christmas so exciting: music, storybooks, Christmas trees, nativity scenes, presents, candy, fancy food, Advent countdowns.  All of those seemed doable as Easter things, except for the nativities, so I tried to do them.  Here's what worked, what went OK, and what failed dismally:

Music - I did make one playlist of the Easter songs from the hymnbook and the Children's Songbook and played it a bit this week.  I know most of them, so I did pretty well at singing them for the past two weeks or so.  Rea learned several of them, and even Sara would dance around the house singing "Alleluia!" which was very cute.  So that went OK.  In future years, I would like to have multiple CDs worth of Easter music, both any springtime music (like In the Leafy Treetops) and actual Easter-themed ones.  But we did OK this year as a start.

Storybooks - I was disappointed in this area.  I got lots of them from the library and we read them several times, but most of them had way too many words per page for my girls.  Maybe in future years they'll go over better.  I was also surprised to see that most other religions don't understand Christ's suffering in the Garden as part of the Atonement; virtually all of the books just said, "Jesus said a prayer," and then went on to the betrayal and arrest.  I expected to find some cute bunny books as well, and I didn't really find any I liked.  Maybe next year we'll do better.  On the plus side, the girls liked to look at the pictures of the Easter books and have me tell stories about them, so we did use the Easter books.  I just wish I had a list of books I really liked.

Tree - I was going to make an Easter tree and hang Easter ornaments (eggs and such) on it.  That was a fail.  We stuck a branch in a pot for the tree, and it got broken to twigs and played with and Mike complained about the mess.  I never got around to making ornaments, and it just didn't work.  Maybe at garage sales or the DI I'll find some real mini tree that we can use next year.  Or this might just not be worth it.

Nativity Scenes - I absolutely love nativities, so I'm sad not to have an equivalent.  I did see a blog post about making Garden Tomb scenes, and maybe some year I'll try that.  But I'm so not a crafty person (see the lack of ornaments for our tree, above), and I'd much rather buy them.  Too bad they aren't as commercial as creches.

Presents & Candy - After getting Christmas down to 3 presents each and a stocking of candy and fruit, I didn't want a ton of presents, but I wanted to do something.  I figured an Easter Egg Hunt is the equivalent of stockings, so they got candy (and money from Grandma Sheila) that way.  For presents, I decided to give a Fun Family Activity for every month of the year.  This was a Christmas gift suggestion that I liked but couldn't fit in our 3 gifts format.  So I thought making it an Easter gift would be perfect.  I talked about it and got the girls excited.  Unfortunately, Mike and I never sat down and made the list.  Luckily, the girls didn't notice.  We'll try and do a Fun Family Activities list anyway, but it wasn't the great Easter gift I was aiming for.

Fancy Food - We had an Easter feast!  I think our traditional Easter meal will be steamed asparagus wrapped in a slice of ham, then covered with a white sauce with cheese and baked.  It's delicious.  This year it was accompanied by twice-baked potatoes, a salad, and Grandma Poulson rolls.  Then we made a lamb cake.  Did I mention how not crafty I am?  And I am not storing a special mold to make a lamb-shaped cake once a year.  But we managed to make an angel food cake (Mike's favorite) to look like a fluffy round lamb and then I drew a lamb face and legs on paper and put them on to make it look like a little lamb.  Mike thought it was pretty silly, but it worked.  Here's a picture:

Countdown - We did a fun countdown to Easter this year.  All our family nights this month were about Easter.  We did an Easter Walk first, which was so popular that Sara wanted it to be a daily tradition.  (You find things to tell the story of Easter: something pokey - Christ suffered, something wood - the cross, something dead - He died, something black - it was dark among the Nephites, a stone - the tomb, something beautiful and alive - the Resurrection.)  We also did the Resurrection Eggs, where you take a dozen Easter eggs and put something in each to remind you of the story.  And this past week we talked about events of the Savior's last week every night, using pictures from the Gospel Art Book at dinner each night.

Monday - Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Tuesday - Christ Cleansing the Temple
Wednesday - In Remembrance of Me (The Last Supper)
Thursday - Christ in Gethsemane
Friday - The Crucifixion
Saturday - no picture (darkness in the Americas/Christ's ministry in the Spirit World)
Sunday - Why Weepest Thou? (the Resurrection)

Tomorrow we'll have tuna fish sandwiches for dinner and talk about how Christ at bread and fish and honey with the apostles when He appeared to them, with the picture Behold My Hands and Feet.

On Wednesday, with the Last Supper, we had a modified Passover meal.  I found a website by a Catholic group sharing a adaptation of the Jewish Seder meal for Christian families.  I further shortened it and used it in our family.  It was really fun and I think we'll do that every year.  It made the first sacrament seem much more vivid in our minds.  Here's the link to the source I used.  We eliminated almost all of the call-and-response and the scripted blessings and just summarized the symbolism at each step.  We used home-canned grape juice instead of wine.  It worked really well and the girls enjoyed it too.

Thursday we cleaned the house.  I told the girls that before Passover Jesus and his apostles had to clean the house, and they were surprisingly good about it.  Thursday would have been the day for the Seder meal had I been following the actual chronology, but it was easier to spread things out.

Friday it was suggested on that Catholic website to spend the hours between 12 and 3 in quiet remembrance of Christ's suffering.  It also said that this might not happen with small children!  We went to my parents' house, so we didn't do anything special, but maybe some year in the future we'll try it.  (We did dye Easter Eggs on Friday, which was very fun.)  The website suggests going outside with little kids and planting seeds and making models of the garden tomb.  And having Hot Cross Buns.  I got a little overwhelmed with cooking the Seder and the Easter meals the same week, but hot cross buns would be really fun someday.

Saturday was our day for the Easter Egg Hunt at the Browns'.  I like having the eggs on Saturday and focusing on Christ on Sunday.  It works very well for us.

Sunday we woke up and talked about Christ's Resurrection and sang Easter songs first thing.  We had our Easter feast at lunch (we have 1:00 Church) and saved the lamb cake for after Church.  I really wanted to listen to Handel's Messiah today, but I forgot.  Maybe next year!

So those were our Easter traditions.  I'm going to try most of them again next year, with some adaptations.  I hope the girls will grow up loving Easter and considering it a big holiday.  We'll see how well it works.

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