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Easter treasures: Connect, reflect, refresh

Easter reflections

Here we are at Easter, a season rich in tradition and a timely moment to press pause and have some downtime as a family. Which got us thinking about the value of family rituals and the long list of profound benefits that family traditions offer our kids. Benefits like a sense of security, identity and belonging can be found in even the simplest of family traditions. I (Ellie) remember that the Easter break would reliably feature hot cross buns, church and chocolate, but also a ride on the tractor to the back of the farm to load firewood onto the trailer with my brothers. My parents might not have realised it at the time, but being a part of ‘team firewood’ spoke loudly into my sense of belonging, almost as much as the faith and food components of the long weekend.

Family traditions are powerful because they shine a spotlight on togetherness and celebration. They create positive feelings and shared memories in kids and grown-up family members alike, enhancing a sense of ‘this is who we are and this is what we do’. They also strengthen family values and help us pass these values on to our children. And while rituals and traditions look different for every whānau, we hope the following reflections from Parenting Place staff members spark joy and perhaps even some inspiration in your whare.

Hide and seek

Jenny Hale, Family Coach:

I do love to pause at Easter – it really is a significant time in the calendar. So church is usually on the agenda. Our kids grew up with the Easter meaning throughout the year but we did revisit it at Easter time and had some great storybooks to enjoy. Nothing overly gory, but good ones that helped our kids know why this was a time to be thankful and to also know why our country was having a holiday.

The only other thing we really do as a tradition these days is the Easter egg hunt. I recently asked our two oldest grandkids (aged 13 and 8) if they felt that they were too old for those silly egg hunts but they were absolutely convinced that the purchase and hiding of eggs is still vitally important! So we will do that again, and I will forget where I have hidden some eggs so I'll find an ant trail a few days later or some shrivelled up pretty foil sometime in November.

I hide eggs with a varying degree of conspicuousness, and there is a general and quiet understanding that if you find more than your share – you might just even it out a bit later.

We also often use the weekend to do a wider family thing – usually a meal together or a beautiful bush walk. It reminds us to take time to reconnect and to make the most of nature and the autumn leaves.

Shared memories

Pio Terei, Pou Tangata and Kaikōrero:

For me, it’s all about connection around history, stories, food and laughter … to remember the ones we have lost and give strength to each other. In these challenging times, the Easter weekend will be a huge boost for us all. I hope everyone reading this enjoys a happy Easter with kindness and whānau.

In these challenging times, this weekend will be a huge boost for us all.

Poetry in motion

Dayna Galloway, Presenter:

My husband loves to write the most elaborate rhyming clues for our kids to help them find where their chocolate eggs are hidden. I have to stifle a laugh as whoever is taking a turn reading the clue butchers the rhyme – and the effectiveness of the clue!

On the harder side of things, this will be my third Easter without my dad. Dad loved Easter and having an excuse to spoil my kids with way more chocolate than two little ones could ever need. Once he got my kids eggs that came with farm animals. They still play with those animals so it will be nice to have them out as part of our Easter breaky and egg hunt this year. But I will miss giving my dad a shake of the head and hearing his cheeky laugh at knowing he’d overdone it again.

I will miss giving my dad a shake of the head and hearing his cheeky laugh at knowing he’d overdone it again.

Road trips and cousins

Isaac Graham, Building Awesome Whānau Manager:

As much as we sometimes flinch at the idea of traditions, maybe the reason why my tīpuna fiercely held to them is because they anchored them to values and principles that helped them navigate their way of being. That's a very deep way of saying this is what I want for my tamariki and one way we have started to do this is by spending time with my wife's whānau down in Porirua, specifically around Easter time. The initial intention wasn't about tradition but we've certainly seen the value of this time for all our tamariki. Their love for each other has grown over the years, despite being separated by distance. Landing the story of Easter in the context of whānau is a tradition worth the nine-hour drive my kids are happy to endure, if only to be in the presence of their cousins.

Landing the story of Easter in the context of whānau is a tradition worth the nine-hour drive.

Home and away

Emilie Timmermans, Space Coordinator:

Growing up in the Netherlands, my sister and I used to blow out eggs so they were hollow. We would then paint them and thread some string through them. Next we would get a branch and decorate it with coloured ribbons and dried fruit, and then hang the eggs on the branch too. We would also bake a salt-dough rooster (which symbolises new life) and stick that on top of the branch. We went to a Steiner school as children, and this is where we learnt about this way of celebrating Easter.

My sister and I loved these Easter traditions and we have many photos, taken throughout the years, of us holding up our decorated branches and wearing our most beautiful dresses.

Fast-forward and now I have my own children... we've painted eggs, decorated branches and only once or twice baked a rooster. My kids love these activities too, and we'll have a go wherever we were – including while camping at the beach! The flowers of flax plants (dried out by that time of the year) are perfect for a 'beachy' Easter decoration, and we'll hang the eggs in those. Lovely memories and traditions!

Making the most of it

Sheridan Eketone, Family Coach and Presenter:

Our kids plan our Easter egg hunt with a budget for eggs and a determined plan to find the best deals for the MOST chocolate. Every year we debate (and, to be fair, forget) which day the eggs should be opened.

Easter for our whānau is also a time of reflection for our faith and that usually involves time at church or attending a reflective space called Stations of the Cross.

Celebrating togetherness

Holly Brooker, Communications Specialist and Presenter:

We have primary-aged kids so Easter is very much centred around chocolate and being together with family. Over the long weekend, we travel south to visit our wider family – aunties, cousins and grandparents – eat too much food, play games and laugh a lot (sometimes there are tears).

We have an Easter egg hunt for the younger kids and carbo-load on hot cross buns loaded with butter, as a symbol of new life and love (while giving us more motivation for a new fitness regime). We love to build on the tradition of family-centred fun during this time. It's also a chance to kick back a notch and enjoy reconnecting as we move out of the busy summer period into the winter months.

We eat half our annual chocolate quota in one four-day weekend.

Sweet indulgence

Kim Smith, Marketing Director:

Easter is a full-on fun chocolate fest where we have a real family-oriented weekend catching up with extended whānau, doing Easter treasure hunts and enjoying a meal or three together. We pray and talk about the meaning of Easter (at age appropriate levels for our young family) and attend a church service together on Sunday. And we eat half our annual chocolate quota in one four-day weekend.

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