Husband & Wife Articles


Making Easter Our Own

Motherhood has made holidays more challenging – and meaningful

By Ashley Cadaret

This was the third Easter that my son has celebrated. Holidays have changed quite a bit since becoming a mother. They used to be about late nights with my sisters, pious liturgical services, and traveling across the state without a second thought. My husband and I now spend holidays creating new family traditions and explaining them to our 2-year-old son in language he might understand. We spend a lot fewer late nights hanging out with my sisters since our son tends to wake us before 7 a.m., and we no longer travel without carefully weighing the effect of disrupted sleep and routine. Times have changed for my husband and me.

I suppose the holidays are the times when it’s most evident that we are forming our own new family unit now, with our own priorities, rituals, and celebrations. We take some traditions from our own families and create some of our own to create rituals that our son will hopefully look fondly upon some day.

An Easter tradition from my childhood was making “Resurrection Cookies” the night before Easter. They are meringue cookies left to cook overnight – in the morning, when you bite into one, the middle is empty just like the tomb. It was a hands-on way to learn about Jesus’ death and Resurrection.

An Easter tradition my husband brings to our family is making fish on Easter morning. Fish? In the morning? I know! But in John’s Gospel, chapter 21, Jesus is described eating fish with his disciples the morning of his resurrection: “Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish” (John 21:12-13). So he makes fish and flatbread on Easter morning.

As we were preparing for Easter last week, it struck me how the trappings of the season, what some might dismiss as “secular” – dying eggs, hunting for Easter eggs, Easter baskets – are appropriate signs for a 2-year old. When celebrating Christmas, it is easy to talk about “Baby Jesus” and what the holiday is all about. Our son even has a Little People Nativity play set and plenty of cute Christmas board books about Mary, Joseph and the Wise Men.

When it came time to explain Easter to our son, however, I realized that telling a 2-year-old about “Baby Jesus” growing up and getting nailed to a cross is way over his head and probably a little traumatizing for young children (not to mention the fact that he doesn’t even understand what death means). So, when faced with the prospect of explaining the holiday to a 2-year-old, I found that all that extra bunny and eggs and baskets are actually perfect. He understands that Easter egg hunts are full of joy. He finds mystery and awe in waking up to an Easter basket. He even loves going to church (this may be because once a month donuts are served after Mass, but I’ll just pretend it’s because he’s so holy).

As he gets older, I’m sure we’ll gradually introduce the story of Easter to our son – the hard stuff as well as the joy of the resurrection. We won’t rely as heavily on the Easter egg hunts and chocolates to give him a sense of the season’s joy. But for now, I am happy for those extra little ways to celebrate Easter.

Ashley Cadaret lives in Ohio with her husband and 2-year-old son. She works at a Jesuit high school, holds an advanced degree in religious studies and designs websites. She shares recipes, tips on frugal and green living, and tales of motherhood on her blog, Our Little Apartment.