Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the Easter trail, arriving later this week.
And with him come the questions.
Should we ‘celebrate’ the Easter Bunny?
Easter egg hunts?
And what about the Tooth Fairy?
And the big guy himself, Saint Nick?
What’s a Jesus-following mom to do?
It’s a question I’ve fielded several times on my blog, on my social media channels, and in ministry. It’s a question that ebbs and flows in details, but often with the same core.
Are we lying to our kids if we participate in the propagation of cultural character myths? Or is it all just harmless fun?
In our parenting journey, Michael and I have sorted through this field of festivities from multiple angles. We’ve leaned hard one direction and then tilted to another. We want our kids to be able to trust us. And we want our kids to have some of the same magical memories we hold from our childhoods. We don’t want to blindly embrace a cultural tradition that isn’t in keeping with our beliefs. And we don’t want to overthink and over focus on things that are non sequiturs to our faith.
When our oldest child was our only and was little bitty, I wrestled with passing on the folklore of a particular holiday season favorite. I hemmed and hawed, thought and pondered, and finally did what any well-intentioned and forward thinking parent would do.
I called my mom.
I asked her if she had worried that she would get her kids all confused between bunnies and elves and God.
To answer me, she asked me something.
She asked, “Well, did it confuse you?”
For whatever reason, as a kid, spiritually I seemed to keep the lines clear between what was ‘fun’ and what was God. My parents didn’t specifically promote the fantasy parts of the holidays but neither did they refute them. And it didn’t make me trust my parents any less.
It’s a valid question and a valid concern parents have about including the cast members of the holiday traditions in their family dynamics.
But it’s not the most important question. And the most important question is not a one-size-fits-all experience.
The most important question is this.
What pleases God?
For your family.
For how He is guiding you.
Have you asked Him?
There are things Michael and I allow in our home and in our practices that some people might not. There are things we don’t allow that others might. There are things you might agree with and things you might not. And there are things in your home that I might have an opinion on in kind.
Except it’s none of my business.
It’s God’s business.
Sometimes when we talk about holidays and how we practice them, we can tend to want to create policy for all believers. I’ve actually had friends end their relationship with each other over their opinions regarding ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. We live in a culture in which our months are named for Roman gods and our days are named for Viking deities. The days and seasons in which we celebrate most of our religious holidays all have pagan roots and were retooled by Constantine in the third century AD to reflect a Christian dynamic. We cannot dodge the history from which these elements came. But neither does it mean that we get to judge each other on our positions regarding said holidays.
And that’s not just my two cents worth.
It’s actually Biblical.
“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day,” writes Paul in Colossians 2:16 and 17. “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
The reality is found in Christ.
I love that.
Wherever we land on the holiday question, what is to always be promoted is that reality is found in Christ.
So I dare you.
Stop quizzing the moms in your coffee group. Silence the theories and theologies of others. Take your presuppositions and preferences and put them by the door.
And get quiet.
And just ask.
Ask God to guide.
And then listen.
Maybe you’ll hear a permission that Peter Cottontail can come on down that trail, no harm, no foul, just fun. And maybe you’ll hear God ask you to put that bunny aside. Just listen.
Listen for Him to lead.
Wherever He leads down that bunny trail.