We got a great response to our candy-free Easter alternative call for ideas. Without further verbose ado, I will henceforth share some ideas with you that will help you make the basket-and-egg part of the holiday less of a mad clamor for sugary treats and more about welcoming Spring.
(I will add one brief bit of verbosity: many Red Pill Reader submissions included the word “moderation” with respect to the aforementioned sugary treats [be they Cadbury eggs, Peeps or chocolate in bunny form]. As reader Lynn says, “To me, it wouldn’t be an Easter basket without some sugar; moderation is the key.” And even though I hate to admit it [because that's what my mom says, and it's hard to admit when our mothers are right], Lynn’s right. Let’s not beat ourselves up for giving in to the ease or temptation of sweet treats; let’s just make sure there’s more to it than sugar.)
First, a few Red Pill Mama tested and approved ideas:
The Secret Easter Message
One year, I typed up a message to my kids from the Easter Bunny, wishing them a happy spring and instructing them where to look for a special surprise. I numbered the words in the letter, then cut it up and put a word into each egg that I hid outside. They collected all the words, put them back together in sequential order, and then dutifully followed the bunny instructions, to find a special toy for each of them hidden in the drawer of Daddy’s grill.
The Easter Puzzle
Reader Christine posted that she just read somewhere about putting puzzle pieces in the eggs – I did this one year with a 24-piece Easter puzzle and it was a big hit (though not as big a hit as the Secret Message). I learned the hard way that most of the puzzle pieces were too big for regulation sized plastic eggs, and if I hadn’t had a few of the big ones around I would have been up the bunny creek without a paddle. Because of course I waited to test them until the last minute. But I’m sure you all would never do such a thing.
The Delayed Gratification Experiment
This was tough, and I’m not sure the reality ultimately met my vision (my vision turned out to be expensive!), but what I wanted to do was to have the Easter Bunny give them a variety of experiences (vs. things) they could look forward to, instead of meaningless candy they would instantly want to devour. So instead of candy in the eggs, I filled a few with Chuck E. Cheese game tokens, put some low dollar value gift cards in others, a certificate for “one jump” at a local indoor inflatable play center, that sort of thing. Other ideas might be a game of bowling, a skate at the roller or ice rink, a game of mini-golf, etc. This is admittedly a bit of a budget-buster, but will give you things to do and experience for months after the candy would have been gone (plus, chances are you might have done these things throughout the year anyway, so in a way you’re just paying for them in advance).
And now, a few from our Red Pill Readers. At the risk of being branded a pagan, heathen or worse, I have to say that I love that so many of you recognize that the Easter we celebrate in this country (especially the basket-and-egg part) is not only about the Christian story of Jesus’ resurrection, but still contains many remnants of the pre-Christian earth-based religions which celebrated the Spring Equinox as a time of renewal, rebirth, growth, fertility and fecundity after the long “dead” winter-time — and a day to honor our relationship to nature.
The Gardening Basket
Reader Cindy’s idea welcomes the return of Spring and encourages her boys’ love of digging in the dirt: her baskets have seed packets, gardening gloves, little hand tools … and Peeps! “Moderation in all things is key,” she says. Christine’s Easter Bunny also leaves seeds for her girls’ “sister gardens.” Now how cool is that? I hope Christine will tell us more about the “sister gardens”!
Gifts for Nature
Reader Michelle shared this fantastically creative tradition: “… we have an annual ritual at Easter time of giving gifts to nature. The kids and I collect scraps that the birds can use in nest building and put them out in the yard for them to find. It is a lot of fun watching to see what is taken each day, and while we are out in the yard we take a look at nature to see what is springing up and looking for bunny tracks in the mud.” She also takes this time to replenish art supplies for her kids … as well as chocolate.
With Teens, It’s All About the Cash
I love that reader Diane didn’t abandon the Easter Bunny tradition when her kids got older and ‘got wise’ (if you know what I mean; because of course in general teens are definitely not wise). She continues to speak to her kids in a language they appreciate and understand, by filling eggs with … money! And while of course as Red Pill Parents we don’t want to place too much importance on the acquisition of money, I love how this idea gives Diane’s kids the independence to make their own decisions and learn lessons about saving and spending wisely.
This is a Red Pill Mama idea, though not yet tested or approved (I might do it this year): I remember making a coupon book for my Dad as a class project when I was in school. I can still remember that one of the coupons was for a “hair comb”: he used to love to give me and my sister his comb and we would just sit on the back of the sofa and comb his hair while he read the newspaper, fixing and patting like we were primping a doll. I’m sure there were coupons in there for hugs, fixing his breakfast, helping in the yard, that sort of thing. (Then again, this was the early 70s, so it probably included lighting his cigarette, gassing up the mower and opening his beer, right?) You could easily translate this idea into a series of coupons for your kids, with a variety of things they will appreciate, depending on their age: an extra story at bedtime, an extra 30 minutes of phone time, a trip to their favorite park, a free gallon of gas, a playdate or an extra hour past curfew (not for your six-year-old, of course), etc.
I’m sure there are a lot more ideas out there in the webisphere, but these have Red Pill Parents written all over them: many thanks to all of you who took the time to share.
(That said, in case these ideas don’t quite meet your needs for either chocolate or Jesus, check out what Tom Henderson has to say on ParentDish in “Sweet Jesus, Save Us From Your Chocolate Clutches This Easter.” Because after all, “The Easter Bunny did not die for your sins.”)
Red Pill Mama