Some struggling with commercial side of Easter holiday

Norma Stickley shops for Easter baskets and bunnies Thursday at the Main Street Crafters Mall with her great-granddaughter, Alexys Ortiz, 6. (Staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

It’s beginning to look a lot like Easter, with the aisles of local stores filled with vivid displays of pink bunnies, assorted chocolates, marshmallow chicks and toy-filled baskets. This colorful retail onslaught has Clovis pastors and parents striving to balance the holiday with the holy day.

Melinda Tate said she grew up in a strict religious household and was not allowed to hunt for Easter eggs.

“My father said hunting Easter eggs was un-Christian,” Tate said. The mother of two said she always felt alienated from her classmates because she was not allowed to celebrate Easter with the “commercial traditions.”

Tate believes she has a unique way to blend her Christian values and fun, so her daughters can enjoy the Easter holiday.

“I buy specialty chocolates shaped like crosses,” she said, “and I tuck a Bible verse inside each egg that tells the story of Jesus’ resurrection.”

First Christian Church Pastor Jon Forrest said he separates the commercialization of Easter from the religious aspects by referring to the holiday as “Resurrection Sunday.” According to Forrest, this enables his congregation to focus on the Christian history of Easter when Jesus Christ was resurrected after being crucified.

The tall, affable pastor said he understands Easter egg hunts have become a tradition, so he incorporates a Saturday scavenger event into the festivities.

“I know it’s fun,” Forrest said. “I just don’t want the true meaning (of Easter) to get lost.”

Fun is exactly why Matthew Coker believes such traditions as the Easter Bunny should not be excluded from the holiday. Although the newlywed Coker isn’t a parent, he believes the “resurrection message” associated with Easter can be taught to small children using the brightly colored, plastic eggs commonly used in Easter hunts.

“When the kids open the eggs,” Coker said, “their parents can discuss how the rock was rolled away to open Jesus’ tomb.”

“Everyone can remember the reason for the season,” Tate said, “and still manage to have a little fun.”