How to define Easter beyond the Marshmallow Bunnies

Is this the year I spill the beans about the bunny, I wondered, perusing the Easter aisles at a local store, wondering which was worse: the fabricated fable or celebrating Jesus with brightly colored Peeps.

How much longer can I pretend a furry animal enters our home each year bearing toys and goodies, hiding eggs in crumb-filled creases of the couch and next to dust bunnies on the floor?

While I push aside artificially colored candy looking for anything but sugar-laden treats to fill environmentally unfriendly plastic eggs, I laugh at myself and think: relax, it’s just one day a year.



But is it? Or is commercialism spilling over into our daily lives?

I’ve volunteered in Haiti, ditched my wardrobe and cut down on my belongings. I drive a vehicle made in 2000 that I inherited recently when my grandmother gave up driving. Yet somehow, every time a holiday comes around, even if just for a moment, I get caught up in the “stuff.” As much as I’ve taught my daughter not to value “things,” I still get that feeling of anxiety when I see shelves upon shelves of holiday goodies. “Will this be enough to fill her basket?” I frantically grab some dollar aisle finds. Wait. “Is this too much?” I start to take items out of my cart.

I think back to childhood when I didn’t know the meaning behind Easter or any holiday, really. Yet, when I recall memories, I can easily revisit the excitement I felt surrounding the special days I would circle on my calendar.

Although my 6-year-old daughter attends Catholic school, neither one of us practice a particular faith. Still, it doesn’t take a devoted Christian parent to want their children to know Easter is about more than eating chocolate bunnies and plopping eggs into their baskets. At 32 years old, I admit, it wasn’t until I recently consulted Google that I learned the symbolism of the rabbit and eggs in relation to Easter.

Again, my mind filled with contradictions: does it matter if we all value tradition in the same way?

As I loaded the shopping bags into the car, my Mom called to tell me Easter plans had changed. Originally, we were going to do something new and have a rustic meal at the family camp. Given our mild winter, the dirt road is already accessible (as Mainers know, this usually doesn’t happen until much later in the spring). But, my 89-year-old grandmother was briefly hospitalized last week after a fall. Come to find out, not only had she pulled muscles and bruised ribs but the doctors found pneumonia and emphysema. Needless to say, she will be staying put for Easter. We will be bringing dinner and piling the family into her 500 square foot apartment.

After this happened, all of my back-and-forth questioning of whether or not I was teaching my daughter the “right” Easter traditions had vanished. I was reminded, as parents, we all have worries that present themselves in different ways, just as we all have different ways in which we celebrate holidays. Believing in the bunny, the sugary basket-fillers, the commercialism … those are details. “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” as author Richard Carlson would say.

I may not know the exact meaning of Easter as it was originally intended, but I’ve learned, for me, it’s more important to know that Easter is defined by family.



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Erinne Magee

About Erinne Magee

Erinne is a Maine-based writer and freelance editor specializing in first person essays, poetry and picture books. Her work has appeared in publications like: The Washington Post, Redbook, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping and The Toronto Sun. For more, visit: