The Easter basket—stuffed with chocolate bunnies and golden eggs—is a widely accepted symbol of spring. With so many goodies tucked inside, it’s no wonder stores boast beautifully decorated, over-stuffed, massive baskets ready to gift. While I’m not against the pre-assembled baskets per se, I do take issue with the amount of plastic and trash typically found inside them. Instead of taking on the plastic industry or boycotting Easter baskets altogether, I have another solution in mind: make them myself and make them natural.
Let’s look at a few basic Easter basket requirements:
Every Easter basket I have ever seen has a beautiful, soft layer of pastel plastic. I myself have used this "grass” as the foundation for Easter’s lovely trinkets and chocolates. Unfortunately, I also found myself cursing the stuff post-Easter as I tried for days to get the tiny strands out of my house and unclogged from my vacuum. This battle has prompted me to search for alternatives to the synthetic sod. The answer was rather easy: real greenery!
Now, I know many of you are saying, "Real grass? Is she nuts?” Well, yes, kind of, but that’s a different story. The idea of using plastic grass must have derived from the concept of using real grasses. I’m just saying, let get back to the basics. Instead of plastic grass, why not lay down a bed of ornamental grasses or herbs, such as rosemary or mint, instead? Imagine the splendor of a basket with the varying colors of a few ornamental grasses, or the intoxicating aroma of chocolate mint creating the perfect backdrop for an oversized chocolate bunny.
Easter baskets and chocolate go together like peas and carrots. For some reason, chocolate and peanut butter just taste better when in the shape of an egg! While the long-eared solid chocolate bunny and peanut butter eggs have their rightful places in the basket, I personally have to ask myself if Jack truly needs another stuffed animal or even several pounds of candy. No, and heck no!
So with a few choice sweets in place, I try to think find things that don’t necessarily have a destiny with the black garbage bag. In the case of Little Jack, a new pair of garden gloves, a new hand shovel and a bottle of bubbles fits the bill perfectly. Chances are he’ll only have one glove left before the month is over, but I keep a basket of misfit gloves for just such occasions. Come May, he’ll probably be sporting a red glove and a SpongeBob glove, but ultimately I just want to keep his hands protected even if they don’t always match.
As for the other members of my crew, I’ve found that a few packs of seeds, a bug net, some para-cord or even a pocket-sized field guide to local poisonous plants fit nicely atop the mint pillow. Everything inside this basket gets the kids up and out. I want to help them discover all the wonders that are outside while trying to recapture the simplicity the Easter basket once was.
This is by far my favorite part of the gift—besides the chocolate-peanut butter eggs that is! I’ve used terra-cotta pots, sand buckets, whiskey barrels and even a new water hose in lieu of standard baskets, again, thinking outside of the proverbial box in an effort to break away from the commercialism and replace it with something useful and out of the ordinary. We have to remember this is a token; a little "thinking of you” left by a 6-foot bunny that broke into your house to leave your children chocolate and hide a bunch of brightly colored eggs.
Finally, as I place my finishing touches on my living/multifunctional Easter baskets, I’m drawn to the beautiful ribbons and bows that line the shelves, but then I glance down at my farm’s array of colors and realize they have nothing on ol’ Mother Nature. Savory herbs, currently residing in their plastic trays, await the opportunity to hide tiny chocolate treasures on Easter morning before meeting their final destination in my garden beds. I decide the shimmery bows are not necessary—nothing says natural or simplistic like a bow made from the twine around the hay bales.
Before I leave, allow me to share a very dear family tradition started by my grandmother 60 years ago and continued in my family today. She had her children, my mother included, dig a small hole outside and layer it with soft grasses and beautiful flowers. She said this was a place for the Easter Bunny to sit and relax for a spell before proceeding with his busy night. She claimed if the hole was soft and attractive, the dear bunny would either be so thankful for their thoughtfulness that he’d leave them an extra goodie or he may become so relaxed that stuff would fall out of his pockets! Sure enough, every Easter, my mother, her three sisters and young brother would awaken to find an extra piece of chocolate, a plastic egg with a few candies inside or some other token of appreciation.
While today I still get plenty of side-ways glances when I mention the Easter hole, it does not keep my own kids from carrying on this tradition. Easter has many different symbols and may mean something different to me than to you, but beyond the candy, the baskets and the purple bunnies, we can see a few universal meanings: spring time, family, love and silly family traditions. The rest is just fluff in brightly colored plastic!
Have a great Easter!
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