Just as my Catholic grandmother did growing up, I now prepare a basket full of little goodies and treats as a special surprise on Easter Sunday morning.
Now, I’m not a religious person. I look at religion as something that is always there for me if I want to discover it. I’ve learned about major religions as part of a college curriculum (I went to a Baptist-affiliated college, so Intro to Religion was a required course) but nothing ever resonated with me. I grew up with a Jewish mother who was atheist and a Roman Catholic father who was agnostic, although he grew up as an altar boy with very religious parents.
I think all of the good values that religion teaches us has become engrained in me, and I like to think that I’m a spiritual person, but I don’t subscribe to a certain belief system. However, I am aware that many of the values that I have myself are derivatives of a religious background.
It’s a funny thing, becoming a parent and continuing traditions you had as a child as although you’re on autopilot and not asking any questions. For example, stuffing Easter baskets. I have some vivid memories of waking up at my grandparents’ house (we always slept over the Saturday before Easter Sunday) to the sumptuous smells of cinnamon honey butter toast and looking over the corner of the couch (we always liked to sleep on the couch, for some reason!) and seeing my overflowing Easter basket.
Growing Up with Religion and Holidays
My grandparents on my father’s side are Italian and Catholic. Growing up, my grandparents always went to church (my grandmother never skips a day unless it’s an illness or something serious but my grandfather wasn’t as allegiant) and even brought us a few times. They celebrated all the religious holidays and always included us in the celebration, as we were their only grandchildren (my Aunt – my father’s brother – never had any children.)
I loved the family gatherings so much and my grandparents always made it clear what we were celebrating and explained it all to me. I always felt like I was just spending time with family in a festive way, never paying much mind to the reasons behind it, even though they were clearly explained to me. It just made me feel like PART of something. I loved that feeling. I loved the extra fun time with family, the food, the fun, and of course… the little treats and presents!
And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I want my children to feel part of something. I want them to treasure these festive moments as children. And whenever they do ask me something like, “What’s Easter?”, I explain it to them as it’s something that we grew up celebrating because of Baba (my father/their grandfather) and what he grew up believing in. They rarely ask, but it has happened a couple of times, and they don’t ask anymore questions. For me, it’s more about honoring a family tradition. Yes, it’s rooted in religion, and that religion (even though I don’t necessarily subscribe to it) is part of who I am and how I was raised, so I’m happy to continue it.
As for my Jewish side, we never grew up with much Jewish influence. I attended a few older cousins’ Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and we played dreidel for a handful of Hanukkahs, but that was it. There were no seders, no Yom Kippur, no temple, no Hebrew school. For me, I recognize that I am Jewish by blood (23andMe says I’m 49.5% Ashkenazi Jewish,) and I appreciate that part of my identity. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as exposed to the Judaic religious celebrations and traditions, so I’m not continuing them with our kids.
Religion In Our Home
Since neither Lu nor I are religious as adults (he grew up Catholic,) we’ve talked about how we want to approach religion with our family and we’re open. If any of our children discovered religion for themselves, we’d be happy to let them explore that. When they find partners that are part of a certain religious denomination, we’ll be thrilled for them to join that community of believers (barring any whacky cults, of course- ha!)
All we know is that we’ll continue to honor the traditions that we had growing up as children and respect the religious background of those traditions. We’ve brought Luca to church a couple of times out of his own interest, actually. We’re happy to keep exposing them and if they want to explore a certain religion while they’re young, we’ll encourage it.
Easter Basket Stuffing Ideas
Now, my grandparents were definitely MAXIMALISTS. They lived life to the brim, whether that’s splurging on good wines at dinner or packing the presents under the Christmas tree. Everything was always big. I love that about them – when my grandfather passed away, I remember thinking, “What a life he got to live, nothing was left undone!” I loved Easter especially, because it not only happened around springtime with chirping birds, warmer temperatures, and budding flowers, but it also included an Easter egg hunt and lots of chocolate bunnies and Jelly Beans. I just have so much love in my heart for Easter, and I’m aware of what it means for Christians, which I find beautiful.
I’ll be sharing my Easter basket on Instagram, so stay tuned for that, but in the meantime, here are some basket stuffer ideas!
All of the products in this collage are linked here.
All of the products in this collage are linked here.
Happy Easter to those who celebrate!