It’s going to be Easter in just a few days! Easter is actually not the best time of year for me.
Back five years ago after my husband almost died of septic shock, he was still away from home for Easter in the rehabilitation center, receiving 24/7 care. So on Easter morning, and for Easter lunch, he was still away from home in the rehab center. He missed all the fun and excitement of Easter morning, and lunch with the family. Fortunately he was able to come home for a few hours in the evening to visit, and we had a “round two” of the egg hunt.
It was his first time home in a month – he couldn’t walk up the stairs very well, the car drive was painful, and he was exhausted afterwards. I remember him walking through the house, asking me if it was a dream that he was home again. It had been such a long time, and so much had happened, that being home didn’t feel real to him.
The rehabilitation center had an Easter celebration for kids the weekend before the holiday, which our then-four year old enjoyed
Then, two years ago, my beloved grandmother – who I wrote about in this article about a thoughtful gift your kids can make – passed away the day after Easter. She had been ill for several months, diagnosed with mesothelioma (aka the asbestos cancer) in January of that year. Unfortunately that Easter she was not conscious. She spent the day in her room, in bed, starting to struggle to breathe. Fortunately she was being cared for at home by hospice, so although she didn’t participate we were all able to still be around her.
I had made this plate of berries for her for Easter, since berries were one of the last foods she was still eating, but she never got to have it.
This was only 10 days before my youngest son was born. We had all been hoping that she would be able to meet him, but it just wasn’t to be. So the day after Easter was spent in her home, so her family could be at her side when she passed away.
So lets just say that Easter is not my favorite holiday.
Edit – I originally wrote this post a few weeks before Easter. Then Facebook reminded me that this time last year was when a friend passed away from leukemia at 40, leaving behind her two young children. And then last week my 16 year old cat died of kidney failure. There’s just something about this time of year.
“Owning” The Easter Holiday
Before my grandmother passed away, all the major holidays were spent at her house. Christmas, Easter, etc. were all lunch or dinner at her place. The year she got sick, that all started to change. And for the first time, I came to own a holiday.
Driving home from work one evening in March, I was thinking of my mother and my grandmother. By that time my grandmother was still mobile, and talking, but weakening quickly and starting to get very confused. She was getting around the clock care from my mother during weekdays, nurses in her home in the evening, and my aunt (my mothers sister) on weekends. It was extremely draining on everyone.
On the drive home, I remembered that it would be Easter soon. And Easter was always at my grandmother’s house, ever since I was little, hunting eggs in the backyard and eating a delicious ham she baked. Obviously this year would be different. And, suddenly, it occurred to me – I’m an adult now. I have my own family. My brother is an adult too. Why don’t we do the holiday so my mom and aunt wouldn’t have to worry about it?
It’s interesting how you don’t think about these things until you’re forced to. My oldest son was 11 at the time, and I was nine months pregnant with my youngest. I’m obviously an adult, and I can cook just fine. But it had never occurred to me to offer to do a holiday, because that’s just not what our tradition was. It was grandmas holiday. But now it was time for me to step up.
So I called my brother while driving and told him my idea. He immediately agreed, and we decided that I would make most of the things and he would bring a few items. Then when I got home I called my mother to let her know what we had decided, and she started to cry. I hadn’t known it, but the idea of the holiday coming up, on top of caring for her mom, had been weighing on her. She was so relieved we had offered to step up and take care of it.
Easter morning, after our family egg hunt, I made everything at my house. Then we drove to my grandmothers, reheated everything in her oven, and had a lovely Easter. My mom and aunt didn’t have to worry about anything, but choose to do the fun part of Easter – one last egg hunt at great-grandmas house for the boys.
Ever since, Easter has been my holiday at my house. So this year I’m getting ready to do everything again – the ham, potatoes, corn, asparagus, rolls, and desserts. I guess I’m a real adult now.
Easter Fun With Kids
Even though Easter is not my favorite holiday (and now you know why) I’m still determined to make it a fun one for my boys. After all, they don’t really remember when my husband was sick. They do remember the year great-grandma died, but we still focus on making the day a fun one instead of a sad one. I don’t want them to feel sad whenever Easter rolls around.
The annual tradition of putting eggs in his hair has amused my now-middle son for free for years
There are two things I do for fun with the kids to make Easter a bit more special (at no cost) – making sugar cookies and creating confetti eggs.
The sugar cookies are the same kinds I make for Halloween and Easter. All it takes is a simple sugar cookie recipe (flour, eggs, butter, vanilla, sugar, baking soda, salt) and icing (powdered sugar, vanilla, milk) with food coloring mixed in. I buy those big containers of concentrated food coloring that last for years and work for birthday cakes as well as cookies.
These are some selections from last years batch – we added some sprinkles for extra fun!
The great thing about the holiday themed sprinkles, and the food coloring, is that they can be picked up from one of the craft stores very cheaply. The cookie cutters are usually picked up after the holiday, when they go on sale, and saved for next year. I’ve also managed to score cookie cutters at tag sales for almost nothing. So if you’d like to add this as a fun holiday activity, just be on the lookout after the holiday at Joann Fabrics, Michaels, AC Moore, Hobby Lobby, or one of the other craft stores.
The other fun thing my kids love is making confetti eggs. I actually got this idea from The Tightwad Gazette, and it’s a blast.
Basically, a few weeks before Easter, you start saving the eggs that you use in cooking by blowing them out. You create a tiny hole at the top and bottom of the egg, and blow hard from the top. The egg will come out the bottom hole and you can use it in cooking or baking, and it leaves the shell intact. Then I put the shell into boiling water to kill any germs, leave it there for a few, and take it out to dry. More about how to do this can be found here.
If you do a lot of home cooking and baking like we do, you can get a lot of egg shells in a short period of time. Then you can either color them just like regular Easter eggs, or paint them.
To make the confetti part, cut colored paper (construction paper, magazines, etc.) into tiny pieces that will fit inside one of the holes. Cover the other hole with tape so the paper doesn’t fall out. Then create a funnel using another piece of paper, to funnel those tiny pieces into the egg. Dump a teaspoon or two of tiny pieces of paper inside the egg, then cover the hole with another piece of tape. I like to do this after they’re painted, because then they’re all set!
So now you have decorative eggs. To get the confetti out, just smash them! You can smash them over someones head, on the driveway, or you can throw them at the ground. They’ll then explode in a shower of confetti. Just make sure to do this somewhere you don’t mind cleaning up afterwards-those little pieces of paper get everywhere.
I also will occasionally make a lamb-shaped cake, using a mold my grandmother handed down.
Now that we have Easter at our house, it’s a bit more hectic than in past years. I’m hoping to still find time to do some of the fun things with the kids we’ve done in past years, and of course we’ll have our annual Easter egg hunt around the house.
So what are you doing for Easter? What fun and frugal kids activities do you do in your family? I’d love to get some more ideas on ways I can still help make Easter special for the boys, so it’s not a sad day.
Want to learn more about teaching kids about money? Check out this great page with my top articles and resources I’ve found from around the web.
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