For two weeks now, our kids have been singing, "Hosanna!" Penny, our 4-year-old, sings the whole song: "Hosanna to the King of Kings!" William, 20 months old, just repeats this new, favorite word. We went for a walk yesterday afternoon, and there they were, arms raised, running in circles, singing "Hosanna!" Or in the car, driving to the grocery store, "Hosanna!" In line at the post office, "Hosanna!" We live in a pretty secular neck of the woods. My husband and I find ourselves quieter than we wish when it comes to faith. But our kids give us away all the time.

Right now, Penny and William don't know about what I have taken to calling "American Easter." They don't know about the Easter bunny. They don't know that the chocolate eggs and jelly beans that have shown up in our kitchen are connected to this upcoming holiday. They don't think of Easter as a day of candy and treats and baby chicks and bunny rabbits. Their experience of Easter right now comes only through stories and songs learned in church.

But Penny is old enough now for us to make some decisions. Will our kids grow up with fond memories, as I did, of wearing new clothes and searching for Easter baskets on Sunday morning? Will they think of Easter as a time to dye eggs? As a harbinger of spring?

The average American is expected to spend nearly $120 on Easter this year, for a total of $13.03 billion nationwide, according to the National Retail Federation. As far as Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart and flower shops are concerned, Easter is about big business. The spiritual stuff is optional. The jelly beans and cards are not. In fact, the money spent on candy in preparation for Easter is comparable to the money spent on candy for Halloween.

My initial reaction to all this ...

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