But what can I do with my family to focus on its real meaning?
The April 2011 Friend magazine had something I'll use this year. If you follow their suggested timeline, that begins today, two Saturdays before Easter itself. Here's a quick day-by-day summary of it and some ideas of what to do each day; see the original article for more details.
Our standard day starts with a song and family prayer (playing the 'hymn of the week' is the call to be awake and in the living room- it sure beats hollering down the stairs every day!)- we can have a new song each day this Easter week, to fit with the timeline below. We sing the same song in the evening right before that family prayer, as well. (If -WHEN!- someone is still talking or not kneeling, we sing the last phrase over again. This is repeated until they're ready. Usually it takes only once. Except for some nights. Again, it sure beats telling them to be quiet and get ready!)
Saturday, 8 days before Easter: Jesus walked to Bethany for a place to stay during Passover. See John 12:1–3.
Song: Come, Follow Me
To do: Point out that many people have traveled to Temple Square for the LDS General Conference (and we'll be watching or listening). There is a great article on the symbolism of the Passover itself, by John Pratt; during our family scripture study we can talk about the symbolism. There's a shorter summary in the LDS Bible Dictionary.
Sunday, one week before Easter: Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey; the people greeted Him as their king, shouting Hosanna (Save Us Now) and paving his pathway with palm leaves. Also known as Palm Sunday, for this reason. See Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1–11; Mark 11:1–11.
Song: Joy to the World (really! look at those lyrics!) or Easter Hosanna
To do: Watch a Bible Video: The Lord's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Monday: Cleansing the temple, to make it more holy. See Matthew 21:12–17; Mark 11:15–19.
Song: I Love to See the Temple, or The Lord Gave Me a Temple (or if you want to learn a less-familiar one, try God is In His Holy Temple)
To do: Each person find some place in their room that needs cleaned and organized- and take care of it! Also, have a Family Home Evening & lesson. :-)
Tuesday: He taught in the temple and on the Mount of Olives. He healed the blind and lame. Judas agreed with the priests to betray Him. SeeMatthew 25:31–46; 26:14–16.
Song: Jesus Said Love Everyone
To Do: Pick some spring flowers and take them to someone sick, lonely, or bedridden.
Wednesday: We don't know what he did this day. See Matthew 25:1–13.
Song: I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus, or Build An Ark
To Do: Reading the Parable of the Ten Virgins is one idea (illustrated version here), print this activity; or learn more about the Passover that Christ was there to offer.
Thursday: His disciples got ready for and ate the Passover meal. This became what we call The Last Supper, he also gave them the sacrament for the first time. After singing a hymn, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane. After his Atonement there, the priests found and arrested him. See Matthew 26:17–29, 36–56.
Song: I Stand All Amazed
To Do: At dinner, serve one or more of the traditional Passover foods. You might even manage having a Seder plate and ask The Four Questions; that would require some advance studying! Chabad.org is a great site for this.
Friday: He was questioned by Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod, and condemned to die. He was crucified, died, and hurriedly laid in a borrowed tomb. In Jerusalem, the veil of the temple tore and there was darkness for three hours. In the Americas, there was a terrible storm for three hours, followed by complete dark until the third day. See Matthew 26:57–72; 27:1–2, 27–37; Luke 23:44–46, 50–56, 3 Nephi 8:5-23.
Song: O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown, or There Is a Green Hill Far Away
To Do: Have dinner by candlelight (yes, we'll have to shut the drapes because it's too light outside!) to remember the dark these people experienced. Watch The Last Supper.
Older children could watch Jesus Is Scourged and Crucified, but my littlest ones would be very disturbed by it.
Saturday: Jesus' body lay in the tomb, the door covered with a large stone, guarded by order of the wicked priests. In the Americas, it was still dark. See Matthew 27:57–66 and 3 Nephi 9:12-22.
Song: To Think About Jesus
To Do: We have our Easter Egg hunt on Saturday- to keep the "fluff stuff" away from the real holiday/holy-day.
Easter Sunday: Jesus was resurrected! An angel rolled the stone away, Mary Magdalene and others saw him. He told them to teach and baptize others. See Matthew 28 Some time after His resurrection, he also visited the people in the Americas, see 3 Nephi 11:1-17.
Song: Christ the Lord is Risen Today
To Do: Watch the sunrise and think about the beauty of the earth and the sacrifices its Creator made for us. Have each child and parent write a favorite scripture on the back of a small picture of Jesus. Each person gives theirs to another family member. (Hopefully this encourages them to really think about which scripture to write!) Watch all the Bible videos about the Savior's ministry.
Some other meaningful Easter ideas can be found in the New Era magazine and The Ensign
May we all have an Easter that helps connect us with family and our Savior!