Easter Traditions

This coming weekend is Easter (or spring recess as the public school system is labeling it these days). As I walked through Walmart and several other stores in town there are blooming Lily’s, baskets galore, and marshmallow peeps in every color imaginable. It got me thinking about Easter celebrations of years past – green plastic grass (that usually ended up eaten by the cat and then, well, you know, in his litter box or trailing behind him); large plastic eggs filled mostly with candy you didn’t want like black jelly beans; and of course, no Easter basket is complete without the traditional hollow chocolate bunny that tastes much like…I’m not sure what it tasted like but it usually wasn’t something I really enjoyed as a kid unless I smothered it in peanut butter.

Our house had a few extra traditions that most homes in the neighborhood didn’t. For instance, my paternal family is 100% Polish. Coming from a Polish heritage means having the tradition of fixing a soup for the holiday. My grandmother called the soup Easter Soup because most of us couldn’t say and most definitely didn’t know how to spell chude (pronounced like ‘should’ except you begin a soft J). It consists of hard boiled eggs (great use for all those colored Easter eggs), kielbasa, Polish sausage, and a broth that has a little bit of a bite from distilled white vinegar. I know it sounds odd but it’s actually really delicious.

When we were younger my mom put together the traditional baskets for us and we all got at least one special item. Maybe for me a stuffed animal or a Matchbox car for my brothers. Once we got older, my mom didn’t see a need for putting together these enormous baskets that were, quite frankly, immensely expensive. So, she stopped. I remember about my sophomore year in high school, I decided I missed the Easter baskets and took it upon myself to put together baskets for everyone in the house. Being that my love language is primarily gifts, this seemed like a fantastic idea to me. Who doesn’t like a gift. What I neglected think about was that being the giver of the baskets meant that I was not going to receive one. Easter morning came and I was all excited for my family to get their baskets from the Easter bunny and you know what? Not one of them has the love language of gifts so no one was really quite as excited as I was about waking up to my well planned and thought out idea. It seems like I remember having the same lame idea at Christmas time with stockings and it went over about as well as the Easter basket idea (or as well as a pregnant pole vaulter like Darryl DelHousaye always says).

My girls are teenagers now but I’m not sure we ever really had the tradition of Easter baskets. Tim and I decided from the get go that we weren’t going to make a big deal about Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, or any other mythical characters. Heck, if we were going to spend time and energy giving our girls money or gifts we weren’t going to let some guy in a red suit or an oversized bunny get the credit. Instead of having a few days designated throughout the year that are holidays (that most of us feel ‘guilted‘ into giving gifts), Tim and I have decided that when we see something we know our girls or a family member will enjoy we buy it if it’s within reason and give the gift quickly for no reason. That way the gift doesn’t get lost in the closet or forgotten about. The potential downside of having the tradition of giving this way is that people tend to still expect a gift on certain holidays. I’m not sure how to remedy this. I guess there will always be people you give gifts to and those you exchange gifts with. But don’t let this stop you from buying that perfect spur of the moment gift for someone today.

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