Who is the ‘yoke’ really on?
All puns aside, at this point in the school calendar year- a parent of Christian faith could very well be exhausted with one more religiously based holiday to explain. The months of October through April feel like holiday after holiday of being in defensive Christian mode.
If there’s anything to learn from the tired moms that share their stories on the Tired Moms INC Podcast, it’s that I’m only a tired mom for good reason. I’m tired because I’ve done all that I possibly could do for the good of my family. I’m not tired of doing what needs to be done. I’ll never tire of helping my children grasp the truth.
So here’s the crack-down (Sorry – this is the last one) on what the Easter season means for a family that follows the teachings of Jesus Christ as written in the Bible, and therefore does not celebrate the holiday Easter.
“Easter” is a theme for classroom instruction in Pre-K, Kindergarten, First-grade and possibly Second-grade in the month of April. Children in these grades are 3–9 years old and like any other holiday celebrated in present times, they are attracted to the bright colors, candy, themed fun and presents.
For the home life, it is safe to say that you can start helping your child make sense of the spring time holiday and understanding its roots as soon as St. Patrick’s Day is over in March, since that’s when the stores will start selling the merchandise. The holiday itself does not have a fixed calendar date. It relies on the moon schedule.
There’s a part to the Easter holiday that is minimized in public schools or stores. The history of this holiday includes the merging of pagan practices and Catholic practices. The public school system is supposed to separate religion from its schooling. They took out the “Catholic” parts of the holiday but left the pagan parts (which are still religious, whether paganism is your religion or not).
This means that I don’t have to worry about my child coloring 3 crosses on a hill or learning about the death of the most important human that ever walked this earth from his teacher. But I do have to deal with him watching other children get excited over the Easter bunny, that lays Easter eggs and gifts children with Easter baskets.
When my children were 3-4 years old, I avoided taking them to those seasonal sections of the stores and malls. We entered through the garden section, the auto-center, or whisked around the end-caps. Merchants really do set things up to get our children’s attention. They know a parent can easily give in because children know how to whine, pout, or charm us just enough. This is where I am with my 4 year-old daughter now – she is fascinated by all the plush animals, pastel candies, and the concept of plastic eggs that open with surprises inside.
When my son was in kindergarten (age 5) the questions came up. Like bunnies.
Why can’t we buy the chocolate eggs? What is Easter? Are there really blue bunny rabbits? How does a bunny lay eggs? Do chocolate eggs come from chocolate chickens? Is that how we get my chocolate milk? Do I have to color this in pink and purple and yellow? Do we celebrate Easter? Did the Lord Jesus Christ have a pet bunny?
These questions baffled me because I was homeschooling this boy.
Where did he get all this information? We were studying ocean life at the time.
Television. Even though I had him limited to the very narrow availability of educational TV channels, they too use holiday themes in their programming. Even the computer apps, that I downloaded and paid for, go seasonally thematic.
These, though, were simply tests of character. I was given a chance to prove how a servant of God chooses God, and is still happy and willing to do so. I answered the essential issue first. In a stern and serious manner, I narrowed my eyes and looked him straight in the eye. “Son, we don’t buy the chocolate eggs.
They are hollow. Hollow means they are empty inside. But we can buy all the chocolate we want, whenever we want.”
I steered the shopping cart to the normal candy aisle. I made a dramatic sweeping motion with both arms “Chocolate, is always available, year round. Our family loves chocolate.”
Once that one was out of the way, my little boy was giggling and assured that we are not strange people.
That is the essential issue, because my son needed to be able to relate to what he could see with his own eyes first.
Now I had the critical task of showing him where we are not like everyone else – showing him what defines us. Teaching him about a powerful God that he believes in, but cannot see.
When we got home, I pulled out my Bible. I also asked him to pull out his Bible.
I explained that if “Easter” is in the Bible, we would be the first to practice it. Our family loves the words of God found in the Bible. Our faith is to uphold all of God’s teachings.
It was a powerful statement.
It’s also the bottom line. If it is not in the Bible, it is not a part of our family life.
That was our first real discussion on that holiday. I answered his many questions matter-of-factly. Like most of the stuff that is done for kids with holidays, it was not complicated to point out simple truths. Bunnies don’t lay eggs. Eggs and bunnies are signs of springtime. Spring is colorful. Chicks are cute.
There is still the central issue though. For my children to embrace their faith, they will hopefully one day come to the full understanding of who the Lord Jesus Christ is and why He had to die. They will also need to know that He was resurrected and now is in heaven at the right hand of the Almighty God.
If I as a parent thought this was too complicated or daunting for my children, and just placated their youth with childish fun – it would get absolutely confusing for them when it came time for them to make sense of the world. If this holiday is really about the death of Christ then why is the focus on the Easter bunny? The yoke would now be on them as teens to make meaning of all the things that didn’t make sense as children.
Faith needs to make sense. When it is based on the Bible, and the Bible alone, it makes real sense.
It is good for our children to bear the yoke in their youth.
What yoke are they to bear? They need to carry the spiritual yoke that comes with completely following the teachings of Christ as written in the bible.
Sometimes they will feel like they are the only ones in the room carrying this yoke.
Fellow parents, this is where resourcefulness plays an active role. Taking an active role in the spiritual activities of our children and keeping a busy spiritual calendar helps prove that there are so many opportunities to do fun and good with our faith.
One resource for us parents with kids in school is a wonderful letter to our children’s teachers that we can download and customize to help explain to teachers our stance on religious holidays in school.
For moms (and dads too), a must-listen is the Tired Moms Podcast: Explaining the Holidays. Emirick Haro, a mom of 3 boys, gives a perfect solution for any Christian parent or child – understanding who exactly has the burden of proof.
For children and parents, a must-watch is the Let’s Sing episode “Should Christians Celebrate Easter?” available on YouTube. The episode includes kids explaining to kids, animations, skits and real experiences of kids. My favorite part is at minute 9:10 when the children answer the question: “What will you do when everyone is celebrating Easter?” My son saw that he was not alone in the pursuit of standing up for faith. He also knows that his life is full of fun, excitement and enough candy already.
Lastly, the need to reinforce and check-up on our children’s understanding is constant. The best resource we have for our children is our time.
Living in the city, we don’t really get to see bunnies in action. Disney’s animated full-length movie Zootopia has several teachable moments, one of which can help with Easter. The film’s key character is a bunny, and her family size is not exaggerated in the movie – bunnies are definitely fertile animals and populous in the spring. Zootopia, did not make any story plot connections to the Easter holiday, but after watching it the first time, and listening to my kids watch it about 50 more times – I made the connection, as a way to re-visit that bunny-based holiday and check-up on my son’s understanding of it. This was right about the time when summer started.
“So did you see that mama bunny laying any eggs?” I asked casually.
“Mo-oooommmm, bunnies don’t lay eggs!” he answered, correcting me.
“Would you like some chocolate ice cream?” I offered.
“Can I get it with rainbow sprinkles? On a cone? With two scoops?”
“Anytime baby. That sounds delicious.”
“Can I pray?” he whispered.
“For what?” I whispered back.
“Mo-ooommmmmm, we’re going to eat ice cream. I want to say thank you to God.”
“Every time son, we have so much to be thankful for.”
“Especially for chocolate ice cream.”
Simple and eventually significant tests of character will always pop up in our lives. These are chances to prove that a servant of God chooses God, and is still happy and willing to do so.
The best example of willingness? That was given by our Lord Jesus Christ before He willingly died on the cross.
Stephanie Canete is a staff writer for INCMEDIA.ORG.
She is also a homeschooling mom of two and prefers dark chocolate treats. She is a firm believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. She believes in Him so much that she also is a member of His Church.