Tuesday, March 23, 2010

you rascally rabbit

For those of you who read the What to do about the Easter Bunny post, I thought I'd offer a follow up.

Dear, dear Easter Bunny... 

I did a little research into your past (like Em suggested - good idea, Em!) and discovered you most likely come from Germany and that back in the day your coming was more quiet, and definitely less commercial. 

In fact, what I read sounded a lot like what my Grandpa W shared about his memories of you, Easter Bunny.  He has the sweetest memories about being a boy and making a little nest in a corner of his house.  Every day of Easter, since Catholics celebrate Easter for a full week, he'd come home and find a single egg or sweet in the nest.  Grandpa encouraged me to not turn my back on you when I told him I didn't know what to do.

When asking my mom her opinion she told me about her Great Grandma D.  I guess my great-great grandma loved you just as much as my grandpa.  She even would swear that rabbit eggs were better than chicken eggs.  She so looked forward to the little treats you would leave for her.

Now, the fondness of my grandparents' memories was pretty convicting.

 But I noticed one HUGE difference between their Easters and the Easters of my childhood and today.  Grandpa and Great Great Grandma each received small gifts, treats, or tokens.  This is a  f a r  cry from the Easter baskets of today, which look a little more like the image on the right. 

Margaret pointed out on my post that it's the commercialism that threatens to overshadow the Resurrected Christ, and not you, EB.  I agree with her, but the thing is, that's all you do:  you bring baskets filled with sidewalk chalk, stuffed toys, bubbles, and lots of candy.  (I wonder what you bring older kids?  CD's?  itunes gift cards?  DVDs?  Video games?  hmmmm... I only have a 2 year old, so I'm not sure.)

It's not that I'm against the gifts or the baskets. 

But, just like Santa, I feel like you make kids excited not because you're a neat character they can believe in, like Ariel or Super Wy.  No, they're excited about you because you bring things.  Neat things.  Nice things.  Sweet things.  And in doing so you, the great bearer of baskets, become glorified.
I should know, that's why I was excited about you when I was a kid.  And I'll be honest, you overshadowed Jesus when I was a little kid.  Let me be abundantly clear, when I was a kid, Easter was primarily about you and the Paschal Mystery was a HUGE afterthought.  (don't feel bad, Mom.  You tried, I was just greedy.)

At school we would all talk about what the Easter Bunny brought us, comparing each other's baskets to see who had the best gifts and most sweets.  This just reinforced that Easter wasn't really about Easter, it was about the baskets and you, EB.

Now, some people seem to think that by not teaching my kids about you I will be ruining a part of their childhood.  Maybe there is a morsel of truth to that.  My hope, though, is that my husband and I will be able to create enough tradtions and fun on our own, centered around Holy Week and Easter, that they will be compensated. 

I feel like I should admit at this point that my children will still receive Easter baskets with goodies inside.  But these baskets will come from their parents and grandparents, not you.  Because, believe me, us normal folk will not become glorified.  It's been proven.  (okay, we will become glorified at Christ's second coming... but that's not what I'm talking about here!)

Really, this is nothing personal.  I don't think you, Easter Bunny, are a horrible bunny.  I don't think parents who invite you into their homes are horrible parents.

But I do feel that since no one told me how they keep Christ the joyful center of Easter while keeping you a supporting character, I am unaware of how to do that myself without asking you to completely bow out of the picture. 

Please know, this isn't about you.  This is about me.  It is a personal parenting choice, made by my husband and I. 

And really, for me it came down to two reasons:

First, commercialism and secularism.  I want my family's Easters to look very different from the Easters of my atheist, agnostic and nominally Christian friends.  Maybe that sounds snooty, but I think they should be different.  A real joy, rooted in a personal relationship with the Risen Lord, should be the focus of our Easter, not a celebration of nice things, like warm weather, longer days and procreating animals.

Second, I feel I will not do a good enough job of keeping Jesus the focus if I have you in the picture.  I want my kids to grow up loving the Holy Trinity, and I wholeheartedly believe that my vocation is to get my husband, kids and self to Heaven.  If not having you come to our home every Spring helps me make that happen, then that's what I'm going to have to do.  I hope you can support me in this choice, even if you don't agree with me.

Most sincerely,
Bonnie E.

8 comments:

  1. Bonnie - i have arecipe called "resurrection rolls" that we love to make on Easter. We have done it the last couple years because I, too, was troubled that my children couldn't wait for easter because of the "stuff" they got - NOT because of the savior of the world died adn rose again for THEM. We still do baskets but they know they are from us, not EB. The rolls take the focus onto the miracle of Christ's resurrection and his empty tomb. You tkae bread dough and wrap it around a marshmallow, then put cinnamon, sugar, butter, etc on them and bake them. when yout ake the rolls out of the oven and split them open they are empty (the mallow melted and left a hole) like the tomb. Every year when we make these it leads to a dialogue about the empty tomb and why it is so important to us. If you want the recipe i will email it to you.

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  2. Sarah, I would LOVE to have this recipe! Thank you!

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  3. Amen :) I still have no idea what we are going to do. I think my husband will probably agree with you and Travis.

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  4. OOh, I'd love that recipe too, Sarah!

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  5. Dearest Bonnie E.,

    I appreciate reading about the fond memories created for your Grandpa W and Great Grandma D. It sure was my pleasure to add such sweetness to their lives.

    It saddens even me to see the commercialism that most kids are into these days. I don't like to overindulge stingy, greedy, little tyrants either with baskets like your picture. These come from my evil twin bunny who has lost his focus AND his ability to be reasonable and rational.

    However, I do like to bring sweetness to those children who have so lovingly given up their games, toys, sweets or favorite things - all for walking with their dearest friend Jesus through His passion, death, and resurrection.

    In their tiny worlds and minds, they have sacrificed and their sacrifices are precious. So it is truly a joy to give such delight with a return of games put away for 40 days; sweets which remind them of the sweetest gift they'll ever receive from their Savior; toys like chalk and bubbles which give them the opportunity to be outside and enjoy His beautiful creation; eggs to remind them that they are a new creation in Him.

    So maybe you'll understand that I do honor and value those parents who strive to do good and get their children to heaven. I also respectfully consider what I put into the baskets of those homes who are truly trying to walk the straight and narrow path to Him.

    I will honor your wishes to not come to your home because I respect you. I appreciate the openness and honesty with which you have brought up the matter. It is my prayer along with yours that your children and you can and ALWAYS will keep Christ the joyful center of Easter. I am quite content to be the sneaky, rascally, most humble, supporting character of Easter.

    To God be the Glory!


    Sincerely, humbly, and respectfully yours,
    E. Bunny

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  6. Dear E. Bunny,

    Thanks for your comment. I wish you would have written on my first post, but maybe you were just now made aware of the situation.

    I wonder, though, how would you address your glorification that I speak of in the letter? How would you encourage, or how have you seen, parents ensure that you are merely a supporting character?

    That is my biggest struggle, and I have yet to hear a satisfying answer. I'm sincerely hoping you can provide one.

    I thank you for your time, and your devotion to Our Risen Lord.

    Bonnie

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  7. Dear Bonnie,

    Did you know that I live in darkness during the winter? I climb in a dark hole until spring comes and then I emerge into the full light of spring. Isn't it amazing that Easter and spring occur together or within weeks of each other? Spring is the bringing of new life and longer days with more sunshine. Our Risen Lord brings just that; new life and light to the world. Doesn't God just amaze you?

    I had the opportunity to talk to a young boy recently about Easter and this is what is said, "Easter is all about Jesus rising from the dead. The EB is just fun. But the real gift is HIM." I have visited this boy's home since before he was born, but yet he's gotten it; the real meaning; the true reason for our joy.

    I personally think it's all about what the parents choose to focus on. If the parents choose to glorify me, the kids will glorify me. If the parents emphasize the gifts, the kids will emphasize the gifts. I honestly don't know when Easter became a gift-giving holiday, but in our fallen world it has happened. I have even seen Easter dinners and hams overshadow the risen Lord.

    Here are some things that parents have asked me to include in their baskets so all the glory is given to God....

    1) The jelly bean prayer along with bags of jelly beans. The prayer can be found here http://www.just4kidsmagazine.com/rainbowcastle/jellyjar.html

    2) Resurrection eggs kind of like these
    http://www.teachkidsthebible.com/biblelessons/resurrectioneggs.htm

    3) Each of the children's favorite candy, to remind them that God knows the desires and longings of our hearts. He even knows how many hairs are on your head - imagine that!

    4) The Veggie Tales Easter Carol

    5) Prayer cards, medals, rosary beads, journals, devotionals..... things that aid them in their journey to Him; items that foster a personal relationship with Him.

    So you see, even with the worldly things included like chalk and bubbles or maybe a family movie they can still have the opportunity to learn and live their faith. I have heard stories from families who've received the above gifts and the children are so excited about the gifts which tell the story. The story of a love that never fails and they do "take delight in the Lord."

    I can sneak in and sneak out, just a "devout Catholic rabbit who loves Jesus so much he spreads his excitement by bringing eggs". Trust me when I tell you that the kids most likely won't even ask about me and then eventually, with a wink and a smile, they'll have a great appreciation for the real person behind my disguise.

    Sincerely,
    EB

    P.S. Did you know that Catholic families used to take their Easter food in a basket to be blessed by the priest? Just a little history on the Easter basket.

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  8. Dear EB,

    Thank you for the ideas you left on what to put in the Easter basket. Wonderful ideas.

    I am glad you wrote to me, because after much consideration of everything you said, I feel like I made the right choice. Your illustrations validated in me that I am not yet a good enough mom to do what is needed to insure you stay in the background.

    One day I'll be there, but that is not today.

    God bless the ones who are!

    Bonnie

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