When I was a little girl (a hundred years ago), Easter was celebrated in a simplistic, nostalgic way. Mom took me shopping to a department store in Omaha or Shenandoah to find the perfect dainty Easter dress to wear with my white gloves. My family went to church in our Sunday best. My brothers and I hunted eggs on the front lawn (dyed the old fashioned way: food coloring and wax crayons), and then we eagerly munched on the foiled wrapped “football” eggs and marshmallow bunnies in our baskets. Mom would bake a traditional savory country ham with all the homemade side dishes. The kitchen aromas were heavenly. The day culminated in quality family time on a very special Sunday.

These days, Easter is a flashy, celebratory holiday accompanied by a marketing blitz. It has been cleverly commercialized and sensationalized. It’s kind of like Christmas in April. Easter baskets have evolved into super heroes, Disney characters, movie themes and colorful jumbo sized packages with toys, games, stickers, and of course, candy. The Easter Bunny must be working overtime 24/7 as he delivers grand gifts (his endurance is comparable to the Ever Ready rabbit).

In my day, the Easter Bunny lived in your imagination, not in full regalia at the local mall. You couldn’t ceremoniously strike a pose and get your picture taken with him because he just wasn’t around like the ubiquitous Disney characters. Keep in mind, this was back in the early '60s in Small Town USA. There weren’t multiple Easter egg hunts to attend in a small town like there is in today’s cities. Easter wasn’t synonymous with which lofty gifts you’d give your children (or ones they requested) or dedicated to multiple festive aisles filled to overflowing in big box stores.

Many celebrate the graduation to big, better, best gifts. My point is that presents, pageantry, pomp and pride now rule the roost, not the Easter egg. Easter-mania rules and clever marketing fuels the frenzy. It’s overwhelming and overstated.

I’d rather go back to the good old days absent of the over the top spending and spoiling. What do I want in my Easter basket? Eggs nestled in Easter grass and chocolate bunnies en masse. Happy Easter everyone.

Cynthia Burton is a Destin resident and former U.S. Marine.