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Remember Easter Baskets?

We were some damn lucky kids.  Not only did my mom go to some of the best candy stores in Philadelphia to get us delicious homemade chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks, she and my Grandmom Fee would put together the Easter baskets.  Grandmom Fee was the poor man’s version of Martha Stewart – she could recycle anything and craft it into something amazing.  Our Easter baskets were festooned with ribbons, cotton ball chicks, bows, bunnies, and elaborate Easter decorations.  People from all over the neighborhood would come to see the amazing baskets, and drool over the mountains of candy my mom piled inside – with the centerpiece being a coconut cream egg with our names on them.

But that was when candy was still okay to give to children.

When I had children, candy became an outlaw.  Never would something sweetened with corn syrup and loaded with artificial colors and flavors cross the lips of my precious children.  It would be only organic produce, healthy foods, and definitely nothing that tastes better rock hard and stale than soft and sugar covered for my girls.

But you know what that did?  That took a $20 or $30 per kid Easter basket – with GOOD candy – to an Easter basket that almost contains the same dollar amount of goodies that Santa brings on Christmas.

Included in our Easter baskets in order to spare our children a lifetime of dental woes and diabetes:

  • Books
  • DVDs
  • spring clothes
  • Easter pajamas (any pajamas with bunnies/chicks/or, in lieu of bunnies and chicks, monkeys)
  • craft kits
  • outdoor toys for spring and summer
  • sidewalk chalk
  • and when they are Brighid’s age, and too old for sidewalk chalk and craft kits, gift certificates to buy something so she won’t feel bad when the other kids have more in their baskets than she does

What the hell?

God bless Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution.  I love him, and I completely support him in his efforts to make our children healthy and our population less obese.  But it’s nearly to the point that I need to take a loan out to fill the Easter baskets!

It’s once a year, and I don’t think a few jelly beans are going to harm my children.  Honestly.  And while I want them to know the lesson of the real meaning of Easter, I want them to also know the joy of an Easter egg hunt, where the eggs are filled with sweet treats that don’t break the bank, as opposed to slips of paper promising trips to the movies or the zoo during Easter break.

Save me.  Tell me what you put in your kids’ baskets that keeps you from bankruptcy – both financially and nutritionally!


5 Replies to “Remember Easter Baskets?”

  1. When I was a kid, we got candy in our Easter baskets, and usually a small easter-themed plush animal. But it wasn’t a TON of candy or anything big. We each had our own basket that we got out of the attic every year just like Christmas stockings, and for my sisters and me, we loved the fun of hunting for dyed hard-boiled eggs more than anything else for Easter “treats”. We loved that GAME of finding the eggs. And we never hid plastic eggs with treats inside, we always hid the real hard-boiled eggs that we’d had a blast decorating the day before.

    I will tell you, too, that my mother HAND MADE our Easter candy, including egg-shaped chocolates with different flavors of cream filling and eggs with scenes of bunnies on them that she had painted in different colors of chocolate with a tiny paintbrush. Not saying YOU have to do that, but like you say, if you make the candy something special and GOOD, there doesn’t need to be a LOT of it.

    I don’t have my own kids, but for years, I have thought it’s weird how every holiday has become another reason for kids to get presents. I don’t think it’s necessary. My happy memories of holidays were more about the experience of doing fun stuff with my family, the way my mom decorated the house, things like that.

    1. I LOVE this – and that’s really what Easter should be about – the experiences with family.

      I think next year, I’m going to learn how to make some really special candies that the kids will love, put an adorable little plush bunny in it, and baskets without sugar be damned 🙂

      Thanks, Melinda!

  2. Now I feel like a total loser….My mom also went to town on our Easter baskets when we were kids. They were filled with those hallowed out sugared eggs with the little scenes inside and LOTS of Bayards candy. The centerpiece was always a two piece hollowed out egg that was filled with chocolate and had our names written on the top…in CURSIVE! She still makes baskets for all of the grandchildren.

    I did the same routine that you have gone to when my kids were little, mixing books and sidewalk chalk with bubbles and some candy. But, after both of mine were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I just lost my zest for Halloween and Easter. I resorted to the unthinkable……I gave them the money that I would have spent on the basket and then took them to the mall. They loved it, but I still felt guilty, like I was depriving them of something.

    Now that my mother makes them their baskets each year, they tend to be a little more excited about getting one, and I wind up eating most of the candy anyway — Just to help save their lives, of course…..I guess when they hit 30, I’m going to hear from their psychiatrist!

  3. When I was young, the only candy we got was on holidays, a real treat, which made it special and we looked forward to getting it. My Dad would bring home candy for every holiday occasion – a hollow cardboard hatchet filled with hard cherry candies for Washington’s Birthday, a heart full of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, Irish Potatoes for St. Patty’s Day, etc., and he bought them all from a store called Lerro’s on Broad St. in South Phila. where the candy was made by the owners. That’s why I buy holiday candy at Aunt Charolette’s in Merchantville – it’s homemade and more natural than the popular brand name candy sold in other stores. I’m all for candy on holidays, an occasional holiday treat is good for everyone – especially anything with chocolate, a little chocolate is actually good for you 🙂

  4. For the record, so I don’t look like a brat, it’s you who think I would feel bad for getting less than the kids.
    Anyway – a little chocolate is nice. And Easter shouldn’t be a big present holiday. All that candy and stuff I sent them cost like seventeen euro – including daddy’s chocolate and his was dearer than their bars because I just got him a big packet. It’s easy enough to get a handful of chocolate and find a cute top and a hair accessory at target or old navy. And then for the Easter egg hunt, my favourite year was the ones that had printed coupons to spend time with daddy or go out to Starbucks or a movie. The fun is really just in finding the eggs. And they really don’t need anything else. When they need something you always get it for them. There’s no need for holidays to be extravagant to be fun.

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