Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easter Inspiration

Just like with Christmas, Easter is a bit of a tricky holiday for Emily and me to celebrate. We're really committed Mormons (i.e. Christians), who believe this time of year to be of critical importance to our entire existence. At the same time, we have young children, and we live in the real world. We walk through aisles and aisles of plasticky, sugary stuff at Target, and think hard about how to make Easter (/springtime) fun and magical for our kids, and teach them the deep importance of it at the same time.

This morning I'll show you some of my favorite ways to celebrate springtime and renewal in my home, and Emily will focus on the real stuff.

I like to bring natural elements in when I decorate. I feel like spring is the season I feel the most naturally happy--like I don't even have to try. It's the warmer, longer days. It's the pink trees, full of blossoms, and the bulbs popping up everywhere. It makes my soul want to sing!

So, on my mantle I have my Easter tree (more info and how-to here). I love it. The colorful eggs and cheerful birds make me smile all day.

And here is another tree I saw in BHG. My tree (also inspired by BHG) took a lot of time. This other one would be much simpler I think.

Speaking of trees, my mother let me lop a few branches off her blossoming plum tree to bring inside. I am crazy about it! The birdies have wire on their feet to wrap around the branches--I think you could find them at a craft store (my mother has a zillion of them--she liked birds before they were cool). Just make sure that you pull the blossoms off the part of the branch that's in the water so they don't get yucky.

The main other thing I decorate with is my candy jars (my children and I are eating way too much sugar so I am rethinking this for next year!) and my egg cup collection. You can read about our love for egg-in-an-eggcup (and get the how-to) here. We eat them almost every morning. Look for post-easter sales to find these darling cups on the super cheap!

And finally, the ongoing pre-Easter activity we do is a simple little advent with plastic eggs. It helps remind me to do something purposeful with my children each day, and adds to the excitement of the holiday. See here.

The bottom line though, is that if you have time for all the decor and it adds something to your life, then great. But for us, it should only be symbolic of why we have Easter in the first place.
I'll leave the rest to Emily...

As I searched the internet for pastel colored images and clever Easter crafts, I felt amiss. This is all fluff, I thought, as I clicked through slide-shows at marthastewart.com; what I really want to share, is that the real beauty in all these pastel adornments, lies in what they represent. Renewal. New life. Redemption. And the possibility of eternity.
Many times with Easter, the things that are supposed to be symbols and reminders, become the whole affair. And the real meaning, the actual miracle, is lost in a cheap, plastic charade. That is sad.
I was reading back through the archives of my personal blog tonight and I came across this bit from last April:

"I have never loved Easter so much as I loved it this year. One of the most poignant feelings I have felt recently is that I need to teach my children why we celebrate Easter. While I listened to Elder Holland's words, it came to my heart like bricks, "my children have to understand this." I thought of the cross and the garden and all the associated suffering, and couldn't abide the thought of my children thinking Easter is just about candy and bunnies and chicks."

So, to draw this all together into some kind of coherent conclusion, I hope you use these ideas we've shared. I hope you make an Easter tree and have an egg&spoon relay and deck your tabletops with cut branches and birds. But I hope that in each of those things, you are reminded of the most beautiful reality of this season. And the possibilities for renewal and redemption that are real to us because of what happened in the Spring time, 2000 years ago.


** Don't forget to submit your Spring Photos by this evening. We'll post finalists tomorrow! **

13 comments:

jeanine said...

I too am trying to find the balance between fun and the real meaning of Easter. One thing we like to do is have the egg hunt on Saturday and use Sunday to remember the real reason that we celebrate. And here is one of my favorite Easter Family Home Evening lessons from growing up: http://servingpinklemonade.blogspot.com/2009/03/easter-story.html.

Ria said...

I LOVE those egg cups!

Amanda said...

Beautiful, Anne.
I'm always trying to walk that fine line between celebrating the REAL holiday, and telling my kids the biggest lies ever. (i.e. Santa & the Easter Bunny) My fear has always been that they will somehow miss out if I don't include those things in our celebrations. Last year, I made no mention of the EB, and the kids didn't even know the difference. (Same with SC at Christmas, believe it or not!)
More than ever, I realize I can let my kids have fun, have an Easter egg hunt (on Sat.), and wake up to an Easter basket full of new spring dresses, sandals & all those other goodies. I just leave out that it's some giant rabbit's doing and make sure each activity and each gift given is a symbol of the TRUE Easter.
Will my kids be missing out? Nah. I think I'm giving them more.

Sally said...

Growing up, the easter bunny always left our basket on Saturday that way sunday was strictly focused on the savior. Just an idea for anyone trying to seperate the sugary plastic from the spirit and importance of Easter.

Mary said...

I love the Easter season. I served a mission in Russia, and my experiences there really instilled in my a desire to celebrate Easter with a focus on Christ, just as you've said you want to do.

The Russian Orthodox church is very strong there, which of course was often a challenge, but I learned some beautiful things from them too. There were several traditions that the members kept after their conversion.

For example, people would greet each other with "Christ is risen" and reply with "Truly He is risen."

Certain cakes were decorated with the letters XB because those are the start of the phrase "Christ is Risen".

Pussywillow branches were often gifts or used as decoration. Some people didn't know why, they just knew it as a tradition, but I found out that they used the branches to symbolize the palm fronds as a reminder of Jesus' Triumphal Entry. I wish I knew where to get some pussywillow! But really, even that is a substitute for palm, so any branches or leaves would do.

Eggs were died red as a symbol of His blood and the new life it brings. My husband and I did this last year with onion skins.


These are some of the meaningful traditions I hope to use in my family. Good luck in your endeavors!

jeanine said...

Mary, my husband also served a mission in Russia (Novosibirsk). He has told me their Easter Greeting... and I love it! It's such an easy way to remember the true meaning!

Heather said...

I LOVE that tree! I think I will make it this weekend :) Darling egg cups too.

I too, have wondered where to find the balance and focus on the true Easter with this beautiful holiday, but my oldest is 2.5 and then an 8 mo. old, so I don't think they would even grasp it yet. But ideas for the future are helpful! The Easter bunny? My oldest definitely get that! Sally's idea for Saturday is perfect.

Abbie said...

Last year I read the chapters about the end of Christ's life and the resurrection in Jesus the Christ (Talmage). It really helped me get into the spirit of Easter. I love that book. I have yet to read it straight through, but whenever I need to remember something about His life (worked for Christmas too) I turn to that book. I think I'll make it a tradition.

Love the decor. I never decorate for Easter. Now I kinda want to. Beautiful, and not plasticy at all.

Jesslyn said...

Lovely post and great inspirations!

lori said...

Lovely decor and lovely thoughts, friends! I've been thinking so many similar things - so many that I can't even begin them in a comment. But it's so much on my mind!! Thanks for all these really good, meaningful ideas.

Bloom said...

p.s. i just spray painted my branches white (on my easter tree) and i love it a million times more!

anne

Amanda said...

As I read through this again, I realized I missed the segue into Emily's half of the post. I didn't mean to slight your beautiful words!
I'm also realizing that of all the time and effort and money I put into making my home a Christmas haven, I haven't done the same for Easter. Why is that? Why isn't the same respect (or more) shown for the sacrifice He made for us that we may all partake in that glorious redemption?
Thanks to all you dear women for inspiring me to do more to show my Savior that I'm grateful for His birth, but infinitely more grateful for His death and subsequent Resurrection. From now on, Easter will be given its rightful spot at the top of my holiday list.

sarah said...

i posted a few ideas on what to do at easter time to keep things focused where they should be

http://sarahnielsen.com/2010/03/thoughts-on-easter/

but i also love spring! so i did a fabric flower garland tutorial :)

http://sarahnielsen.com/2010/03/tutorial-tuesday-fabric-flower-garland/

some other things... we like to fill the easter eggs with puzzle pieces, not candy. then we work as a family on the puzzle. we also do all the fun easter/spring stuff on saturday with our neighbors. we have a bbq and an easter egg hunt. To keep things fair, each child has a certain colored egg so the little kids get the same amount as the big kids. super fun.