Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter traditions: A Case Study

Eggs by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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 Our family is gearing up for Easter.

It is a time for reflection on the life, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is a time for worship, fellowship and family gatherings. And, it's also a time for traditions.

This makes me recall the traditions (or sometimes a lack thereof regarding picking a church and sticking with it) my parents had with me and my siblings. Their traditions were an interesting mix of church services at churches we didn't normally attend (yes...we were THOSE people...you know...the family that only attended Christmas and Easter services), family visits and secular Easter "fun". You see...my Mom is (was?) Catholic. My Dad is (was?) Presbyterian. So, my siblings and I would get a smattering of Catholic masses mixed in with Presbyterian services for good measure. Mix in some Easter "fun". Bake until done!

The night before Easter, my Mom would have all of us kids dye hard-boiled eggs. I liked using the little clear crayon that would let you make your own designs on the eggs that would show through after they were dyed. Once the eggs were dyed, we put them in the refrigerator. Somehow, miraculously, some of them appeared in our Easter baskets the next morning. That smart Easter bunny!

On Easter morning, my brothers and sisters and I searched the house for our Easter baskets and plastic eggs filled with all sorts of goodies. Some of the eggs had jelly beans of all assorted colors. Others had some money in them...usually coins...finding some with quarters in them was like hitting the jackpot! I loved to see how creative my parents the Easter bunny would get on hiding places. Each year seemed to up the ante. I would check the usual suspects first...the cabinet under the sink...behind the couches...in the bathtub behind the shower curtain. No hiding place was too bizarre or off-limits, except perhaps in my parents bedroom and bathroom! Each child had their own specific basket that my parents the Easter bunny used each year. And, we knew that. So, if one of my siblings, say...for example...my brother Brian...found my basket before I did, in theory, he was supposed to not say anything so that I could try to find it. Those times were hilarious because he would be practically bursting at the seams wanting to spill the beans (not the jelly ones...hahaha...) in anticipation of telling me! My parents would admonish him..."No, let your sister figure it out!"

Once all of the baskets were found we were allowed to have some candy before church.

Can anyone say "Peeps"?!? Love, love...L.O.V.E. them!!!

(Note to self: this could be a BAD tradition to continue with my boys...see why below...) I don't recommend this strategy for various reasons chief of which is getting your kids "sugared up" before church does NOT lead to a relaxing worship experience for any involved! Also, doing all of these secular Easter traditions BEFORE recognizing the true reason for Easter puts the cart before the horse (sorry Mom & Dad...just sayin').

AFTER all of this excitement (and sugar), we would all get "ready" for church. This usually meant us kids would straggle around trying to eat as much candy as humanly possible BEFORE my parents just about "had it up to HERE" with us (visualizing my Dad with his hand WAY over his head...lol). Whose idea was it, again, to search for candy-filled baskets & eggs BEFORE going to church? That Easter bunny strikes, again!

My Mom was always the last one out of the house to go to church. As a mother myself now, I can COMPLETELY understand why that happens! For the husbands out there, let me explain this phenomenon. Mom is busy getting everyone ELSE ready FIRST. Then, and only then, can Mom focus on finishing getting herself ready! Inevitably, my Dad was always out in the car (honking the horn for my Mom to get her butt out there...ahh...setting the mood for attending a worship service...lol). By the time we got to church, everyone was in a foul mood. Most of us didn't want to be there as all we were thinking about were the Easter baskets waiting at home for us.

Once we got home from church, my Dad would put on the movie "Jesus of Nazareth". (I actually DO love that movie!) Mom made ham, mashed potatoes (a yam just for me), green beans and corn. The house would smell like warmth and family. My paternal grandparents and aunt would stop by. Hey! The Easter bunny brought us baskets to their place, too. Go figure!

We would visit my Mom's parents during the Easter season and get handmade baskets from my grandma. She made recycled baskets from butter containers. She made recycling cool before it became cool in my eyes! I was always impressed with her baskets because she made her own chocolate! She must have had some molds she used because the chocolates were in different shapes...eggs, bunnies, etc. Those are what I remember the most from her baskets.

Now that I have children of my own. I'm trying to develop new traditions with them. Am I keeping all of the traditions my parents passed down? Yes, but in a modified version. The focus is more on Jesus and fellowship, then the "fun" eggs and stuff come after. My husband comes from a deep tradition of church-attending Presbyterians. So, from the beginning, (and I mean while we were even DATING), we decided we wanted to attend a church regularly together. And, once we had children we would want them to also attend regularly and enjoy the fellowship that comes with being part of a church.

We do dye eggs the night before Easter like my Mom did with me and my siblings. My husband and I are going to give them candy but not in copious amounts. We may include things like coloring books, crayons and little toys. Plus, we know that that clever bunny will be showing up at TWO sets of grandparents houses!

This year we're celebrating Easter dinner at my parents' house. Ahh...brings back memories. I'm ready for my "Jesus of Nazareth" marathon. Bring it on!

What are your Easter traditions? Feel free to post yours in the comments on my blog!


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