Monday, May 2, 2011

Not-Boring Easter Basket Candy Substitutions

Ten years ago, when looking at expensive pre-filled Easter baskets at the grocery store, I would scoff.  To me the baskets filled with toy cars and fashion dolls rather than candy seemed to embody a way for society to be manipulated into celebrating all holidays by buying gifts instead of some of the simpler traditions.  Ten years later I have a different opinion.  Not that I would want to buy a pre-filled basket, but that maybe small toys have a better place in our children's Easter baskets than a 4 1/2 month supply of candy. 

At Owen's first Easter he was ten months old.  As parents we had looked forward to sharing holidays with our children as a great joy in our future.  But when the time came we thought, "What are we going to fill Owen's Easter basket with?"  He was barely into strained peas--we didn't want to give him jelly beans and chocolate rabbits.

That year we ended up with a little pull string vibrating ducky, an Easter bib, and plastic eggs full of "O" cereal and baby puffs.

Every year since then has been about the same, with a small amount of "classic" Easter candy added in to the mix.  The truth is Jeremy and I like a little bit of that too (particularly some quality chocolate).  And now with more kids, we spread around that candy into four baskets so there's not too much for one person to enjoy over the course of a few days, and then be done without ever having been "overdone".

Our baskets from left: Jeremy's, Mine, Owen's, Jonas', Wyatt's. (I look like the greedy one.)

Our kids have small Easter baskets.  When we bought Owen's for his first easter I thought we could buy him a bigger one later.  I then decided, why buy a bigger basket that just needs more to fill it up?  

So each year we've looked for different surprises to add to the baskets that are not candy.  This year the random assortment included Easter pencils.  Jonas and Wyatt's baskets both included some California Baby Sunscreen.  (Yes, sunscreen--don't you wish I was your mother?)

Owen's basket included some oil pastels.  He's been asking for some since experimenting with them at art class.  This seemed like a good time to oblige, and he was very excited to get them. 

Everyone but Wyatt (chocking hazard you know) received a series 4 Lego Minifigure.  A certain dad around here is kind of obsessed with them.  

 What can I say--they are pretty fun. 

Then of course there was "O" cereal for the baby.  He loved popping the little eggs open. 

Many people think of Easter celebrations as being pretty non-eco-friendly.  I guess it could be--but that's not how I was raised.  We have "permanent" Easter baskets that get packed away to the basement and brought back out each year.  They are made of natural wood and reed.  The plastic Easter eggs and grass are festive nostalgia.  They are not eco-friendly products, but we use them in an eco-friendly way--we reuse it all every year.  Though, my mother passed on these practices as "thrift" and "frugality," and never realized she'd have left such a politically correct and "green" legacy.   

I don't see myself buying any more plastic eggs, we always end up getting free eggs every year from the zoo, or library, or friends.  But if I did find myself in need of more eggs or perhaps, specialty-sized I'd go for making some cute fill-able felt Easter eggs

Celebrating Easter does not have to equate with a huge plastic basket overflowing with plastic eggs full of candy that makes everyone sick and cranky and then get's thrown away at the end of the season.  As with everything else in life, we do Easter our own way, not the way society dictates.  But that doesn't mean we are unable to enjoy any of the cultural traditions of the holiday.  Our Easter includes time spent in religious teaching and reflection, good food cooked and enjoyed together as a family, Easter baskets filled with a few small trinkets and toys, and a little bit of candy as the cherry on top of our Easter Sunday.

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