Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easter Tradtions

The final part of "making Easter a big deal for your kids" is traditions.  Now from the outset, let me just say a word about "the search".  You can find amazing ideas on blogs and Pinterest all day long.  I love to search and "pin" ideas of cute Easter crafts and desserts, etc.  But at some point, the search needs to end, and you need to just make your traditions your own.  Sometimes searching so much can rob me of the joy of practicing the traditions, because in my mind I see the pinboard with all the ideas I didn't get to.  Or I think about how amazing other moms are and how they are doing more than me and then I feel guilty or depressed.  Let me just keep it real here -- there are some days that our house sits rather messy and supper gets just thrown together because I am doing crafts with my kids.  Or my kids have fight about whose day it is to put on the paper chain link or open the egg in the chicken (more about those in a minute).  In many ways, these traditions are for ME right now as much as them, because I am the one who knows Christ and who is encouraged to think of his great love for me when I see the cross.  But someday I hope the traditions will mean quite a lot to my children as well.

That said, let me share some of my favorite traditions that I anticipate continuing for a good length of time unless they someday become unhelpful to us:

A new tradition I'm starting this year is hanging tags on our new Easter clothes -- I really love this idea from Jessalyn at Desiring Virtue (which is also where I got the free printable).  I have always done new outfits for my kids (and sometimes the grown ups in our family as well) at Easter.  But I have never had a real reason for it -- but here is a wonderful way to redeem our new attire.  When we dress in fresh new clothes (or homemade clothes, or new-to-you hand me downs), we can feel fresh and new ourselves!  Instead of glorying in our appearance, we can remind ourselves that Christ dresses us in our new self in Him "after the image of the Creator" and one day he will dress us in a new robe that will not fade away.  I think this is a tradition that will grow with us -- it will be especially helpful when my kids get bigger and may be tempted to be proud of their appearance.  It is helpful for me NOW when I am proud of my kids' appearance!  As beautiful as they are in darling fresh Easter outfits, that is just a tiny tiny picture of the glory that is waiting when we are dressed in Christ's righteousness!

 Here are some traditions we have done in the past and are enjoying again this year:

1. Countdown to Easter -- I had an "aha" moment last year that I wrote about on this blog about how to count down to Easter by making a paper chain.  This year I cut 31 paper strips and taped one to hang from each day on Susie's calendar and the paper chain we have made is hanging from the kids' bedroom door.  I have mentioned multiple times how it keeps getting longer like our sins keep getting more and more.  I think my kids are going to get REALLY excited about ripping up the paper chain on Easter morning!

2. Easter tree/Resurrection eggs -- last year I put an egg in our glass chicken each morning for Susie to find when she woke up.  These eggs were a version of Resurrection eggs that I attached little ribbons to for us to hang on our "Easter Tree".  Susie has gotten REALLY excited about this again this year and can explain the symbols herself (except the coin, that one tripped her up).

3. Games and crafts --

  • I like to hide puzzle pieces in eggs and have the kids hunt for them and then put together the puzzle.  I found small, easy puzzles on Oriental Trading that fit in the jumbo sized eggs well.  We enjoyed this activity last week with our neighbors, who are new to America, and have never before celebrated Easter -- I was glad I had thought through our traditions so I could explain Easter to her a little bit that day!  If I just had said "we do this egg and bunny thing. . . but . . . it's really about Jesus" it would just make no sense!  Instead I shared that eggs are a symbol of life and we celebrate that Jesus is alive at Easter.  She was interested and surprised that Chip recognized the picture of Jesus on the puzzle and shouted "Jesus!" when it was completed!  
  • There are no end to the cute craft ideas out there!  I personally like to skip bunny stuff and most other spring-only type things to focus more on the cross.  My kids do have a collection of stuffed lambs, and I think lambs are a very appropriate animal to make crafts about (especially if you take time to learn about Jesus being our Shepherd, the Passover, etc).  Here are a couple adorable lamb crafts I found and may or may not create with my kids.  We have colored lots of pictures, done some paintings, and made Easter cards and bookmarks to share with friends. I'm posting links to some of my favorite coloring/painting pages. 
 4. Treats -- We sent an Easter care package to my sister who is in college and made a version of this treat.  It was perfect because the kids could help me make it, it was light to travel, and since I omitted the M&Ms, it was chocolate free (we try to use only fair trade chocolate, and make it rare and special).  We also like to make these Resurrection rolls with marshmallows, cinnamon and crescent rolls. Making treats to share for Easter gives us an opportunity to share our love for Jesus!  On a more every day level -- I have a small cross cookie cutter that I like to pull out from time to time and cut small cross shapes in my kids' pancakes, sandwiches or whatever just to make it a little bit special. 

Tomorrow I will post about our Holy Week traditions -- our Easter mountain, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Enjoy a blessed Palm Sunday looking forward to the return of the King!

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