Wednesday, April 23, 2014
It's a few days after Easter, and my kids are just now enjoying their Easter baskets. It's been an untraditional kind of Easter, but I'm hoping it will become the norm. Being a minister, Holy Week for me is a time of chaos in preparing for extra services and leading others into a time of reflection and worship. I don't have the ability to stop and reflect for myself during the most busy moments. It's hard for me to even guide my own family through the meaning of the holy-days. My most meaningful time of connection is in the days afterwards when hopefully I take take a bit of Sabbath rest and think about the journey through Lent. Spring is also hectic for our family as our kids celebrate birthdays three weeks apart in April and May, my birthday and Mother's Day is in May (along with commencement and other major events at work), and John celebrates his birthday in June along with Father's Day and our anniversary. This year Maryn's birthday fell on the day after Easter, and we had already had a joint birthday party for the kids, an Easter egg hunt at church, and lots of extra celebrations and gifts from family. It all seemed like a bit much, especially as the kids began fighting relentlessly over their gifts and their behavior started making their parents very grumpy. Something had to give.
I had already broken the news about the (un)truth of the Easter Bunny to Maryn after she began having bad dreams that he was in our house trying to get to her. She is frightened of costumed creatures and had seen the creepy looking bunny at the mall. I let her know that that's not what Easter is about. The bunny we saw was a person dressed up. I promised that no bunny would come to our house delivering baskets. Instead, Mommy and Daddy get the baskets and hide eggs, and we celebrate the holiday to remember how Jesus died for us, but then came back to life again. She was reassured, and we moved on (with me hoping she wouldn't spoil the Easter Bunny myth for other kids). I was bemused to hear Brady later telling friends at church that "The Easter Bunny doesn't come to our house."
I didn't feel good about giving them another basket of things to argue over, particularly as they had been unkind to one another as we had ended the previous day. So I had an insight and prayed it would go over well. I left them a note and a challenge with an Easter basket full of eggs. For each empty egg, they would be responsible for doing something helpful, kind, or thoughtful for someone else. Instead of the "put-downs" they had been using, they would need to find nice words ("put-ups"). They would need to accomplish 35 tasks to earn their gifts and celebrate the many gifts that Jesus gave to us.
I'm happy to say it was a success. Brady woke up early (as usual) and read the note. He took it matter-of-factly, and then explained it to Maryn when she stumbled downstairs. There was no arguing or complaining; in fact, there was peace for the first time in days. They actually worked together to find ways to help our family and others, and were actively involved in our church service that day. It took two days for them to get their baskets, but it made them stop and reflect on the words they were using. I hope they were as inspired by the peace that it brought to our house as I was, and I hope this becomes a habit.