Jesus Christ is where the candy is.

Easter is a favorite time in our household. I just love watching how each of our children understands this tremendous celebration, each in an endearingly age-appropriate way.

There are some things that kids of all ages, even our babies, just “get.” Darkness is a bit scary--and morning light means joy. When Dad and Mom are quiet and serious, the kids get quiet too, and a bit mystified. They wonder, what’s going on?

But when the party starts, the laughter rings out, the music comes on and the world is full of color, fun and games--even the baby begins to laugh, bounce and clap along.

The simple things we do as adults to demonstrate the “Good Friday” to “Easter Sunday” transition will make an impression on even our youngest. If on Good Friday we turn off our own phones and TVs and remain quiet and prayerful, if we dress and decorate in dark colors, if we say that it’s because we’re remembering how Jesus died for us, the littles may not exactly understand--but they will certainly catch our mood.

If we spend Holy Saturday together as a family in fun-filled preparation--egg coloring, Christian Easter crafts, decorating, traditional baking (but not yet eating), setting out empty Easter baskets--then the kids know we’re anticipating something momentous. Something wonderful is on its way. But not quite here yet.

When we enter church in darkness and silence and come out full of laughter and joy--if we get home from Easter Mass and get that party started--if we proclaim the Easter response: “Christ is risen; Indeed, He is risen!”--if we crack open the eggs and unwrap the candy, fill our homes with flowers and bright colors, crank up the music and light all the lights, then our kids feel the difference. Even their faces are transformed with excitement.

And let’s not kid ourselves. They know. They know that it all hinges on Jesus, and something He did. Understanding what that “something” is, will be the spiritual quest of a lifetime.

Coming home from Mass at Easter to a marvelously full Easter basket is to speak the simple, clear language of childhood: “empty” versus “full.” “No you may not” versus “yes you may.” From “maybe later” to “yes now.” From no treats to insane numbers of treats! And all because of Jesus, because of His love, and because our world was dark, so Jesus turned on the lights. Our basket was empty, so Jesus filled it. Our world was sad and silent, so Jesus started singing us His song.

One day, they’ll be old enough to understand “death” and “resurrection.” But for now, understanding that Jesus Christ is where the candy is? Well, that just may be enough.

For some ideas for Christian-themed, non-sugar items to put baby’s Easter basket, check out our Lily the Easter Lamb (who prays and sings Easter prayers), Easter paper chains, and Lil' Prayer Buddies mini plush, rattles and lovies.

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