Easter Musings - Kimberly Thompson

I have seldom been able to convince my husband to attend a sunrise service on Easter morning. Last year I think he mumbled something about volunteering to sit outside in the cold and dark being unnatural. (Probably why he has never taken up deer hunting). He truly is the engine that has gotten us to church, as well as Sunday School, most weeks for the past 30+ years, so I’ll forgive him this one Easter-related quirk. I guess it’s on my mind because this will be our first Easter as empty nesters. Our youngest won’t even get to come home for the weekend, since he was just here for spring break. Palm Sunday a few days ago was tinged with a bittersweet nostalgia, as the children processed in waving their palm fronds … wasn’t it only yesterday that my own kids were part of that?

Easter may not be as big as Christmas as far as holidays go, but it’s always been really important.

Our only daughter was born on Easter. However, she became our daughter at age 14 months, so we did not get to celebrate the first two Easters with her … you better believe that the Easter that she was 2 years old, she was decked out in serious Easter finery! I still remember that beautiful yellow dress, white faux-fur coat, and white patent-leather shoes with frilly socks.

Our youngest son was born 6 days after her 3rd birthday, so although Easter moves around a lot on the calendar, his birthday always shows up somewhere in late Lent or early Eastertide.

Then there’s the traditional Easter dinner … being in Texas we adhere to the Southern tradition of having the main holiday meal at midday. So, ham along with deviled eggs, potato salad, and a jello mold shaped like a bunny have always been on the Sunday noon table. Many years, grandparents would be there to enjoy it too. After the dishes were put away and cleaned up (or before if they could get away with it ), the kids would hunt eggs over and over again … or hide them for the little ones if they had outgrown the joy of the hunt.

There is very little that I find memorable about our 30+ years of Easter celebrations that required a lot of precision work and skill. (OK, maybe those deviled eggs). Usually I found that the fussier I was about the details, the less I enjoyed the celebration and the grouchier I was with the family. As one of my good friends once said about her family’s Christmas, “Our celebrations are less like a Hallmark card and more like something from The Far Side.” At some point along the way I think I learned to embrace our Far Side.

I learned to accept that small children are messy and that their tummies are on their own schedule. I also learned that in a large family, people throw up or spike a fever at the most inconvenient times and in the most inconvenient places. I learned that in the course of real life, we must be fully present for the things that go as planned … because all too often things turn wacky and sideways. And somehow those few “went according to plan” moments became enough.

I learned that the kids who will let you dress them in any fancy dress clothes you choose without complaint are also the ones who really don’t care how they look or even if they took a shower in the past week. The ones who care how they look, and who shower and comb their hair without complaint, are never going to quickly surrender to your ideas about wonderful Easter Sunday duds. For some of my kids, it became enough that they had on a shirt with a collar and clean underwear. For others, it became enough that we were able to get out the door on Sunday morning and into the car on time.

I learned that even after you are in the car and on your way, weird things can still happen. Like the time our tuxedo cat came out from under the seat halfway to church. We were late to church that day … but it’s a favorite memory, especially because our youngest, who was about 18 months old at the time, noticed the cat first. “Pete! Pete!” he kept saying. We kept assuring him that he would see Pete when we got home. Until his oldest brother suddenly exclaimed, “Pete’s in the car!” The laughs we still enjoy when we retell that story more than compensate for things not going as planned that day.

I learned to accept that teenagers were never going to embrace hanging out with parents and grandparents the entire day. Getting them to do a couple tasks to prepare the meal, to sit for a half-hour at the table as we ate, and then to do a couple things to help clean up was about all that they could be expected to do cheerfully. And that became enough.

I’m learning to accept that Easter is likely to be different from here on out. Sometimes we will get to celebrate Easter with our grandkids, and sometimes not. Many times it will just be the hubs and I, going to late service (He is risen! He is risen indeed) and then eating a little Easter ham together before the usual Sunday afternoon nap. And it will be enough.