The Berenstain Bears are dear to my heart. When I was growing up I had most of the ones that existed back then, and The Messy Room is seared into my memory. My stepdaughter Talya learned to read on these books, years ago. These days we have just about every one in our house, and Cedar is beginning to be able to read them as well.
With this weekend's upcoming holiday, and my child's growing enthusiasm for it, I realize that I have been struggling with Easter for years. Having been raised Presbyterian, moved with personal intent toward Buddhism, and slowly settled on Humanism in my adulthood, I somehow still find Easter a holiday I feel obligated to celebrate. But Easter is an overtly religious holiday. And more so than Christmas, it is hard to separate the religious aspects from the lighter, secular parts.
I want it to be about spring and Mother Earth coming to life again after a long winter (and this one was a really long winter). Cedar loves the egg dying and hunting, and the joyful and colorful basket of candy and chocolate bunnies on a random spring morning is hard to discount. Yet I've never known how to explain this holiday, minus all the jelly beans and minus Jesus.
I have known for a while that The Berenstain Bears had a Christian series within the series (which I avoid like the ten plagues), but imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a secular Easter one for us nature lovers- The Berenstain Bears and the Real Easter Eggs. I glanced over it in the store, expecting some reference to Jesus, or sacrifice, or shining lights breaking through the clouds, but to my delighted joy, none of these things infiltrated the book.
Somehow, The Berenstain Bears captured exactly what I feel about Easter. And allowed me a way to explain through words and pictures to Cedar what Easter really is. It's a time for a change of seasons and nature awakening to springtime. In a way, I guess that's not so far off from what the religious folks think about Easter. Only, I want to celebrate the literal solid Earth that supports my body, the rain that soaks in to keep me alive, the fresh air that blows through the fields, and yes, that warm sun breaking through the clouds to allow plant and animal alike to sprout up with joy at the chance to open and grow and thrive again.
That, and a chocolate bunny or two can't hurt.