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How I replicate my childhood Easter memories with my own brood

Tradition. It’s what holidays are all about. Easter is a big one! In my family growing up, the Easter traditions were as solid as they come.

For as long as I can remember, they all went the same way. We’d wake up next to our favorite pair of shoes, and inside each one would be a lovingly hand-dyed Easter egg waiting to be devoured. It was pretty much the only real food we’d eat all day, and it was good to get some protein first thing in the morning. Cracking open each pastel shell was a glorious feeling; I don’t know why, but destroying something so pretty was like an instant rush. It set the tone for the rest of the day when we’d be fueled by sugar and rushing around like prettily dressed demons.

Once we’d eaten our eggs, we’d spring into action, getting dressed in our Easter outfits and heading out to find the first of several sets of “clues” that would lead us to our Easter baskets. My mother would have stayed up all night creating a scavenger hunt across our house and (if weather permitted) outside, leading each of us on our own mini-adventure that involved solving riddles that led to our next destination. We’d pore over the harder clues, trying to decipher where they were sending us. The older kids would help out the younger ones, especially before we could read. Every once in a while, our clues would overlap and we’d find ourselves in close proximity to one another. In those times, we’d giggle and shield our tiny slips of paper from prying eyes before heading out to the next stop. We were led from the kitchen to the laundry room to tiny closets and up and down stairs. Sometimes we’d find our clues (always hidden in tiny plastic Easter eggs) up a tree or in a drain pipe.

Eventually we’d exhaust all of the clues and we’d find ourselves in front of gloriously tall wicker baskets filled with plastic grass and all the candy you can imagine. We dug in, enthusiastic and grateful. In the years when we lived close enough, we’d head over to my grandmother’s house, where she’d have hung plastic eggs from her dogwood trees, each filled with tiny treats like jellybeans or chocolate, and at least one of them would have cold, hard cash inside. We always, always, always got a giant milk chocolate bunny in our basket. It took weeks to eat the whole thing, and the day we took the last bite was always bittersweet.

As the years went by and we all started to grow up and move out, the traditions became muddled. My parents held out for a while, but in the end, they stopped giving baskets and having scavenger hunts and a chocolate bunny was the only thing we got to acknowledge the holiday. It no longer lasted for weeks, but was gone in a matter of hours.

Now as I look back on these traditions with new eyes, the eyes of a mother, I imagine how I can pass down to my children the traditions of my childhood. None of my three beautiful boys can yet read, so we are going to have to wait on the scavenger hunts. And there’s no dogwood tree to hang plastic eggs from. I have pastel-colored Easter baskets ready to fill with toys and treats, and every one of them has received a stuffed bunny rabbit on their first Easter. This year, my son, Chester, will be getting his.

Like most family holidays there is going to be some drama involved. My oldest son, Dexter, is somewhere on the autism spectrum (a formal diagnosis is hopefully coming soon), and his current behavior is causing issues. With Easter coming, he is becoming fixated on the idea of the Easter bunny bringing him lots of chocolate. We encourage his excitement, but we are also using it as a way to help him calm down during his upsets. Telling him that he needs to calm down and be good or the Easter bunny won’t bring him his treats allows him to think forward and realize how his behavior might affect his future. Like many ASD kids, he becomes particularly obsessed with specific things, and right now he is primarily concerned with chocolate bunnies.

Part of our work with him involves rewarding his good behavior and trying to use positive reinforcement to change his misbehavior. To that end, we have bought a small army of mini Lindt GOLD BUNNY chocolate figures as rewards for his “good days.” We have them in varying sizes and they are leading up to a giant chocolate bunny that will be the centerpiece of his Easter basket this year. The anticipation of this has him working extra hard to be a good little boy. He’s also being extra considerate of his brothers, and on the days he gets his bunny reward, he always asks that they get one, too.

This year, Lindt USA is continuing its partnership with non-profit organization Autism Speaks to raise funds and awareness for autism during the upcoming Easter season. It’s an amazing resource for parents of children with ASD. The funds raised through the partnership this year will help Autism Speaks support individuals with autism and their families through a variety of ways, including educational tool kits for newly diagnosed families, grants for community programs and scholarship funding to educational institutions, among many others. Over the past seven years, Lindt has donated more than $700,000 to Autism Speaks, proving that one small bunny can make one big difference. Now through Easter on April 5, 2015, Lindt will donate 10 cents to Autism Speaks for every Lindt GOLD BUNNY purchased at retailers nationwide, Lindt Chocolate Shops and, up to $100,000.

Disclosure: This post is part of a collaboration between Lindt and SheKnows.

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