Easter: Instill a love for the Savior in the hearts of your little ones.
Easter-focused, daily devotionals in the week preceding Easter to recount the final week of the Savior’s life were important to my mother since my childhood. In a recent email to her children, my mother reflected on her tradition of Easter devotionals. She wrote, “… I especially enjoyed following the Savior’s activities each day [of Easter Week] through the scriptures…. I hope you might remember something of it, but at least I loved thinking about it each day, of where and what Jesus would have been doing 2,000 years earlier. Now it’s your turn to do your best to instill a love for the Savior in the hearts of your little ones.… He is the light and life of the world!!”
Unfortunately, much more memorable to me than my mother’s devotional tradition, were the activities of coloring eggs, a hunt for eggs with money amounts written on the shells (to be cashed in later), a large breakfast basket filled with candy, and homemade cinnamon roles. I recently wondered, “Why can’t I remember Mom’s devotionals very well?” In discussing this with my mom, she wanted to take the blame, claiming her devotionals were not sufficiently inspiring, but I recognized that my memory of her devotionals was fuzzy because I misplaced my focus at the time. To me, the food and fun activities were more of a novelty than Mom’s daily devotional, regardless of how inspirational Mom’s devotionals were. My poor memory of her devotionals was less a matter of what she might not have been doing, and more a matter of how much we were doing in other activities.
How does this apply to my family? In most cases my wife and I have found middle ground when it comes to family traditions. However, Easter is one holiday for which neither I nor my wife would compromise, so Easter is a festival to behold for our four boys and one girl. It’s not just a hunt for Easter eggs with money amounts written on the outside, a special Easter breakfast with homemade rolls, and an Easter basket brimming with candy. It’s all that AND a jelly bean hunt competition, an Easter basket hunt for each child, a ward Easter egg hunt, and on and on…and where does this leave the Savior in the hearts of my little ones? Likely, not in first place. So as I reflect on what I can do to better instill a love for the Savior in the hearts of my little ones at Easter time, I conclude that some of our Easter activities should be reduced or eliminated because they distract from our highest goal of inspiring our children with a love and appreciation for the Savior. This year my family will conduct a thorough inventory of what we are doing and deliberately eliminate some activities rather than focusing on we may not be doing. We will cut back our activities to make sure each aligns with what we want our children to know, feel, and remember.
An analogy will drive the point home. Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon—often referred to as the “Allegory of the Olive Trees”—describes some olive trees producing “wild” olive fruit in part because the branches had overgrown the roots, becoming “lofty.” (I interpret “lofty” as “overgrown and woody,” or putting energy into branches rather than fruit.) These branches needed to be pruned. Pruning allows roots to focus on growing fewer, larger, tastier fruit. It also creates space between branches so the fruit can be exposed to more sunlight, which ripens the fruit. Through pruning, these wild olive trees were able to produce good fruit again. Perhaps your family’s Easter traditions could benefit from a good pruning, too, especially if your Easter traditions have too many “branches” and are less “fruitful” or “tasty” than you would like. Few holidays have the potential of producing as desirable fruit as Easter has. Let’s turn Easter into an opportunity for our little ones to consider the great and eternal sacrifice of the Savior for us, His death, and His resurrection for all mankind; and may we do a little more to instill a love and appreciation for our Savior in the hearts of our little ones!