“So, Jesus, Adam and Eve, and the Aborigines were all the first humans and they all didn’t like Jesus so he had to die because he loved us. I don’t understand. Mum, why do we have Easter?”
True story. So, where do you even start to address this line of questioning? Erm…well, Jesus was a man who lived long ago… erm, some people believe…erm, and then there are traditions…erm, and some of it is more of an allegory really….erm, no, you probably don’t know what an allegory is do you….erm, yes, yes it would really hurt to have nails in your hands….erm, chocolate anyone?
Easter worries me. You know, just for something new and different. Because there aren’t nearly enough reasons, as a parent, to worry that you’re not making the right choices for your offspring. For starters, there’s the ‘real’ Easter story. Now, whether or not you are religious, it’s cool to remind kids that there are reasons for the tradition of Easter. It’s not just a time when we eat too much chocolate and maybe go camping. I like to discuss the history of any public holiday or celebration with my kids – it helps them understand where we’ve come from. So far, so good. Except that quite a few of our public holidays have gruesome origins. They commemorate war, protest, invasion and death. Easter is heavy on the ‘death’, if you get down to details, and it freaks kids out. So, I’m all for understanding the real meaning, but I’m struggling to come up with a version that won’t haunt my children’s dreams in the weeks ahead.
And then there’s Pinterest. “Piiiinterest!!!” (picture me shaking my fist at the lap top). I can’t live up to the extreme creativity one witnesses online at Easter. The bar is set way, way too high. There’ve been no egg shaped sandwiches in lunchboxes at Charming HQ this week – no delicately decorated edible bonnets, no little chicks made of face washers, no recreations of the Easter story out of cheese sticks (if it’s not there yet, it will be). I can’t do it. Not only do I seriously lack flair in this area, I have a tornado toddler who would render any attempt at crafty bunny biscuit decorating a massacre of rabbit-season proportions.
Then there’s the bunny. The Easter bunny comes to our house. We’re not over the top about the goodies he leaves – a small selection of eggs each, a novelty toy or two (it was ears all round this year) – but we do buy into the fantasy. Not all of our friends and relatives get a visit. In some houses, the kids grow up quite happily knowing that this fictitious home invader will not be a part of their lives. Some families make this choice on religious grounds; others just choose to avoid the hype of yet another carefully marketed occasion to buy unnecessary stuff. Some parents don’t like to lie to their children. Some years these bunny-free kids might ‘spoil’ it for others by letting the bilby out of the bag; whereas some years they might enjoy the conspiracy and authority of being someone who ‘knows’. Some years it simply never comes up in conversation. I respect these families’ decision not to conform to a tradition largely perpetuated by supermarkets and confectioners. In some ways, I envy them for being true to their own values. I guess I’m saying, I get it.
And yet, I still do it. I get a little thrill out of seeing those first hot cross buns appearing on the shelves. I love the cheeky choc chip and sticky date renditions. I look forward to the inevitable ‘whose buns are best?’ comparison piece that will pop up in our local newspaper. Come Easter Saturday, I’m a little on edge about getting everyone to bed on time. I come up with a plausible story in case I get caught ‘in the act’ of hippity hopping goodies into designated hiding spots. I look forward to the early alarm that will bring wide eyes to the side of my bed fizzing with excitement. “Mummy! He’s been!!” We encourage our kids to believe. We even put up with the tantrums and hyperactivity and sticky fingers that follow the Easter morning binge. We roll our eyes, chastise ourselves…then take photos.
We go through this process of questioning true meanings vs commercialism vs really quite bizarre traditions as each December rolls around and each baby tooth comes loose of its gum. Why do I perpetuate these funny old notions of lying and buying stuff? Because I’m a sheep? A brainwashed consumer? I like to think not. Is it because I don’t want them to somehow ‘miss out’ on something other kids enjoy? That may be a part of it. But I think it’s mostly because I love their innocence and general kidishness (NB. not a word, but should be). I’m OK with fairies being real. I’m not ready for the day when any mention of bunnies is met with an eye roll and a yawn. And I like being in control of the gentle unfolding of religious stories and historical truths, as awkward and challenging as they may be. It won’t be long before they’re telling me I know nothing at all. When it comes to craft and baking, they might even be right.
So, why do we have Easter darling? Probably just because time passes way too quickly.