This week I went shopping for Easter candy.
This is the first year in my parental history that I remembered to buy Easter things. I know, I know...I shouldn't be such a wretched parent, I should remember my kids' feelings, yada and such.
My excuse thus far has been that my kids' birthdays literally hug Easter in their calendar proximity. After the birthday fetes, why oh why should I add to their stash o' toys by just buying more stuff?
Every year, my mother tells me that they need Easter baskets. And every year I scramble at quite the last minute, buying bunnies with broken, hollow, sub par chocolate ears. It should be noted that my mother only remembers my birthday because I write it on her calendar. And now she guilts me into buying Easter baskets for her darling grandchildren.
However, this year we didn't do birthdays the same way (more on that later) and so I thought a small basket would be in order. After obtaining the necessary financial backing from my business partner, I thought about what I should include in these festive wicker receptacles.
Moira has been asking for a 'real' Bible, so that was really the top of the list. Austin greenlighted the appropriate translations for his mini-me, and I had the arduous task of deciding on the color of the cover.
Um...they don't really need socks...hairbows....crayons....hmm. What should I get? A big fat no to any more toys, and even their book collection is getting really big (I've inherited my father's problem/gift of obsessive book buying/reading) and I don't want to buy stuff just to have stuff.
It really did take awhile for me to realize that getting some candy would be an acceptable idea. I'm soooo very healthy and my kids never, ever eat candy. (Snort)
The thing is, I have thrown BUCKETS upon GALLONS of candy away during the last few years. When any normal child gets candy in their goody bag, trick-or-treat sack, Christmas stocking or such, they usually eat it. Maybe not all of it, especially when the trick-or-treat bag yields those odd brown paper wrapped candies that have no writing, ingredient list or brand name. These candies frighten me and are immediately thrown away because they are probably causing nuclear fallout in the Zhinishan Desert.
My kids choose two or three things from any such candy giveaway, and then ignore the rest. I can leave it in the middle of the table and they will only make piles with it according to size, color, or addition of allergens (largest pile). So, I don't really buy them much candy. They just don't like it all that much.
They loooove good chocolate. For whatever reason, my dad started feeding little bits of his 'secret stash chocolate' to the kids when they were hardly able to eat Cheerios. He likes very dark chocolate, and keeps it hidden somewhere until my mom finds it and he has to move it again. Therefore, my kids have learned to love good quality chocolate, even the really dark stuff. When we pass by Godiva, they pick out a truffle. And they eat it. And they don't scream for a whole bag of it.
Why is this?
Because it is good stuff, and when something is that good, it satisfies!
Think about it. If you had the choice of a whole bag of Hershey or a single well-crafted truffle, which would you choose?
I would take the good stuff any day. It satisfies in a way a whole truckload of the other stuff just can't.
I've heard many people say that they don't let their kids have 'nice' things because kids just can't appreciate it.
I disagree with this way of thinking, and that's our topic of the day!
I'm somewhat in love with Philosophy shower gels, and have been such a lucky girl that I have a few bottles of it in my shower. It isn't Dial soap, and it certainly isn't something I buy every week. But I let my kids use it when they shower because they learn at a young age that they have worth. They know that I'm sharing something with them that is more than soap, and that I'm letting them in on something that makes ordinary things a little more special. When I run out, they run out as well! And then we use cheap bar soap until the next bottle of happy shower gel arrives. But we share it either way.
A kid knows when you aren't sharing. They have a wicked sense about these things. Try to sneak a chocolate when they aren't looking, and they will catch you most of the time. They know that there is a big difference between the plastic plate you hand them and the china plate you get for yourself. Sometimes they don't care. But, at least in my case, they usually do.
I haven't been able in good conscience to tell my girls that they cannot have a real fork or glass because they might mess it up. Quite honestly, I have just as much a chance at breaking something as they do. And more importantly, I'm not worth any more than they are. I don't get myself a glass because I'm important or because I've earned it. I get a glass because I'm thirsty and need a drink, and I need a way to fulfill that need. The receptacle matters as much as I allow it to. And when I attach so much worth to that vessel that my child cannot be included...well, I think that starts down an ugly path.
As I was thinking about this issue, which is lately of importance to me, I was reminded of communion.
Depending on which flavor of the church you scoop, you may or may not be accustomed to children receiving Holy Communion. I grew up in an area of the church that was kiiiind of against it but not really because that would be offensive and if you seemed to be listening to the sermon, they'd let it slide this time and you could receive. Austin grew up in an area of the church that included children in this holy act.
All denominations have their weaknesses and strength. Community was a strength in his church, particularly in the area of sacraments.
We've probably all heard someone say that kids shouldn't have the Body and Blood because they 'don't understand it'. Obviously we could tell such a person that she most likely doesn't understand it either, because nobody can understand the full mystery. But then the bigger issue is when we remember that Jesus himself said that the children should come to him, and not be kept from him. Yowza. That's pretty easy to understand.
Children don't know about theology, they don't know long passages of Scripture, and they sure don't know how to sit still in church for very long. But they know how to eat, and they know how to drink. And, they know how to love. There isn't much more that is required to come to the table of the Lord besides those simple things. Love, real love, includes hope and repentance and sincerity. My kids are probably better candidates for the Lord's Supper than I am. They know that Jesus told us to, and that Jesus loves them, and that all you have to do is drink this wine and chew this bread. How simple is that?
I don't want my children to be barred from communion for the same reasons I don't want them to miss good chocolate.
If you are worth it as an adult, you are worth it as a child. Children have an amazing ability to understand when they are being honored and included. If you teach a child that they are only worth circus peanuts from the dollar store, they will have a really hard time learning that they are worth the finest chocolate. If you teach a child that they are only worth going to class to glue popsicle sticks and cotton balls on a Jesus cutout, they will have a really hard time learning that they are worth the body, and the blood, that Jesus gave them.
So this Easter, I'm giving my kids a new Bible and a Godiva chocolate bunny. Because they are worth all of those things, and so much more.
I hope they get the message, even if they don't really understand.
By the time they do understand, they will know that they are deeply loved and appreciated not only as my children, but as fellow Christians and part of the eternal community of faith.
Jesus wanted the children to come to him, just as they were, with chocolate smeared cheeks and cowlicked hair. He would have shared his finest china, or shower gel, or whatever he had. We know this because he gave, in the end, his last breath.
Happy Easter to you. I hope someone gives you a very nice chocolate bunny. If not, ask your grandmother. She will always make sure that you are honored, no matter your age.