I love the fact that Easter (like Christmas) brings families and friends together. As a family, we usually head off camping with friends. It’s always fun with never a moment to spare, particularly when we have two or three families join us. As a result, sometimes I feel like we get so caught up in the Egg hunts and excitement of outdoor activities that we forget to take a moment to reflect on the celebration of Easter.
This year though, we’re staying put. We’ve got a big trip coming up soon and we need to put all of our spare change aside. This makes for a perfect opportunity to be a little more reflective about Easter. We’ll still have our annual Easter Egg hunt (this year it’s a Twilight version), but I’d like to delve a little deeper into the story behind the Easter story. I don’t want to force my views on our children, but I do want them to understand that there is another reason for the season. I know this will be hard. Reflection with a young family is a tough gig but I’m forever hopeful…
Did you know the actual origins of Easter are rooted in Saxon history? The name Easter comes from a pagan figure called Eastre who was celebrated as the goddess of spring. Eastre’s earthly symbol was the rabbit, which was also known as a symbol of fertility. Today, Easter is almost a completely about Easter eggs and the Easter bunny. And why not? These symbols of birth and new life are wonderful concepts to appreciate.
On the other side of this is the Christian story of Easter. Not quite so pretty and easily digested as chocolate eggs and bunnies!
I’m not going to do it alone though. Kids love stories and mine are no exception. I find reading stories about a particular subject one of the easiest ways to open conversation with our kids. With Easter, and with many stories, there are two components. There’s the actual story but then there’s the story behind the story, and I want to make sure we talk about both.
We’ll start off with a G-rated story about the actual historical event and story of Easter. The First Easter written by Lois Rock and illustrated by Sophie Allsopp. I don’t want the kids to be overwhelmed by the gruesomeness of some of the elements of the Easter story though so I wanted to find a picture book that captured this in an authentic but non-confronting way. This one is as non confrontational as you can get with this particular content.
For me though, Easter is more than just an historical event, its a story about what one man did for others. This is the story behind the story and I want my kids to try and grasp this concept more than anything else.
In a serendipitous moment a few years ago I found this book and it literally jumped off the shelf at me. It’s called Little Rose of Sharon. Written by Nan Gurley and illustrated by Tim Jonke. I bought it in the hope that one day I would share it with the children I hadn’t even had yet. Now is that time. It talks about the concept of sacrifice and it’s effects (yes, it’s a biggie).
The first time I read this story I teared up. It’s about a beautiful rose who notices a dove egg has fallen out of it’s nest and onto the ground. As the night approaches the rose realises that if it doesn’t do something to help the egg, it will perish in the cold of the night.
A moment of sacrificial love saves the life of the little dove egg and the celebration of a new life begins as a result. It’s such a sweet, sweet story.
Sacrifice is a big concept, but I think my children will understand it as they think about the things they have all had to ‘give up’ at different times for the sake of our family. These sacrifices, and why we made them, are the things we’ll talk about as we try to digest the story behind the story.
I honestly don’t know how it will go but I’m hoping they at least take one thing away from our family discussion, and I don’t just mean chocolate eggs!
This weekend we’re focusing on our family. Yes, we’ll take friends to our church’s Easter show, we’ll hunt for eggs (in the dark!), we’ll eat far too much chocolate, but we’ll also take time to reflect on the wonderful story that is Easter and what it means to us as a family.
How will you be celebrating Easter?