It's fun to reminisce about holiday traditions from our childhood, isn't it? Getting to open a present on Christmas Eve, having your dad read Luke 2 on Christmas morning, going to Good Friday church services, and hunting for Easter eggs all bring warm memories flooding back into my mind. But if you're like me, while you might look back on all of those traditions fondly as an adult, there were probably some that you looked forward to much more than others as a young child.
I'll put it this way: the 8-year-old version of Ansen was way more excited about getting presents and candy than going to church or reading Bible passages. My mindset was to get through the boring stuff so that we could get to the good stuff. I'm pretty sure I wasn't alone.
Of course, just because an eight year old might not find reading a scripture passage to be as fun as eating chocolate doesn't mean it's not important. I'm so grateful that my parents made a concerted effort to incorporate the deeper meaning of the most important days on the Christian calendar into our family's celebrations of them. But now that I'm a parent myself, I'm realizing that's a task that is much easier said than done.
I think as kids or adults, it's tempting to lump our holiday traditions into one of two categories -- the stuff that's supposed to "teach us something," and the stuff we get to actually have fun doing. Unfortunately, much of the time, these two types of traditions don't really intermingle. We make the kids sit through a Bible reading session or attend a church service because it's good for them, and then we finally relent and let them rip open presents or stuff their faces with jellybeans.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't think everything we do has to be tied to some sort of deeper meaning, especially if the connection is artificial or contrived. It's perfectly fine to just have some innocent fun! At the same time, there are occasionally (or maybe often?) lessons we must teach our children that they may not find enjoyable.
But when we always separate "fun" and "learning" into distinct activities, we're cementing in our children's minds that what we say is the most meaningful is actually just boring. Meanwhile, what we say doesn't really matter is the most rewarding.
So, perhaps it's something worth considering this Easter -- how can we make our holiday traditions both fun and meaningful, instead of making them either fun or meaningful? It will probably take some work, and it may look a little different for everyone. In fact, my wife and I are still working through various ideas for our young family. I've included a few resources for tradition ideas below (from people who are much more creative than myself!), but whatever you decide, make this Easter fun and meaningful for your family.
Enjoy making memories together this week!