Monday, April 13, 2009

Non-traditional Easter

Whenever I'm asked "what is your favorite holiday?" I will almost (unless I'm feeling lazy) always say "I like Christmas for the family traditions, and Easter for the meaning." For me, my entire belief system is based on the fact (I believe) that Jesus Christ went to his own death on the cross so that his death could pay for my (and anyone else's) sins. This belief is what my entire life/world view/choice pattern/parenting system/marriage/mindset is based on. If you know me well, you'll know this about me, and if you don't know me well, I hope that, at least in part, you can see some glimpse of this in what you know of me. Ideally, you can see some quality of mercy, grace, joy, faith and/or contentment in me that hints at this belief.

At any rate, I like Easter.

Our Easter this year was not "traditional" in relation to what we did as kids.

When I was growing up, Easter involved getting VERY dressed up in new, Springy, fancy clothes, often including white gloves and white patent-leather shoes for the girls, and a new suit and tie for our brother and dad. If I had my scanner set up, I'd be able to share many pictures of the three of us kids in our Easter Finery, because, of course, there were always pictures taken. Easter involved waking up and dashing around the house, peering into every nook and cranny (what the heck is a cranny?) to find the 3 dozen or more eggs we'd colored earlier in the week (until Mom got paranoid about salmonella and stopped hiding eggs out of the fridge overnight), culminating in all three of us kids finding huge baskets filled with candy and peeps (out of the package and stale, of course).

Then we'd all go to church, sing amazingly beautiful hymns, and then later in the day have dinner with my grandparents (either their house or ours, depending on factors that were never discussed with us kids. Sometimes we'd spend the holiday with my Aunt and Uncle who lived near Cleveland (again, either their house or ours). We have a huge, fancy meal with the good china and silver, lots of food, and often have Gorant's Candy for dessert.

Another great tradition for me as a child was being able to take out our special Easter Toys and play with them. We had a great collection of wind-up bunnies, a plastic chicken that laid little plastic eggs (I think? Or maybe it laid jelly beans or something?), and of course, the wooden bunnies with carts, all on wheels, that Uncle Bob had made for each of us (he made one for Simon, too). Those carts were really sweet, and the bunnies' rear wheels were offset a bit so that it seemed like the bunny was leaping instead of just rolling. My second favorite toy was the mechanical bunny that was eating a carrot (remember that, Linda?), and the mechanical noises even kind of sounded like machinated eating (chomm-chomm-chomm). Funny!

Mike and I have always tried to make Easter special for Simon. We have often gone to church, and have often gone visiting to one or the other set of grandparents, or at least had some kind of "family" meal (either our actual relatives, or friends in town) at our house.

I realized very quickly with Simon, though, that filling a big basket with candies of all kinds was a huge waste for him. He only eats plain dark chocolate, and sometimes he'll enjoy really sour stuff like sour chewy things or that super sour spray they make now. Also, with braces, he's not allowed to have all the sour chewies he used to love. Either we'd end up throwing most of the other stuff away, or I'd eat it (like I need that!). So we started getting more creative with his basket fillings. Often, we'd get him fresh new art supplies, because it's that time of year when the new stuff he got for school is looking worn and broken, and all of the paper from Christmas is used up. But, it's challenging to put huge pads (or reams) of paper into an Easter basket.

Simon and I did end up coloring some eggs, although we didn't use one of the old Paas kits we used to always get. I found this great idea to use old silk ties, and it worked great! You have to be certain they're actually silk (most of the ties DH was willing to let us destroy must have been rayon or something).

I agree with my mom that it's not wise to leave eggs (even hard boiled) out over night (especially since we've gotten the cats). So we started making scavenger hunts for Simon, putting the clues in plastic eggs that lead him all over the house, garage and sometimes the yard. This also allows us to get him a larger Easter present, generally something we know he'll get a lot of use out during the Spring and Summer. This is how he got his bike and his scooter (different years, of course). It's been a blast, writing the clues, hiding them around, and then, in the wee hours of the morning, watching him run around deciphering them all! When he was small, the clues were simple and obvious "look under Dad's pillow" or "go look around the computer desk", but this year I had lots of fun writing little couplets. The other change this year is that Mike couldn't find the collection of plastic eggs, so we just had clues on paper and no eggs. Si didn't seem to mind.

Here's how it all played out (this pic of me and Sam wasn't taken Friday, but might as well have been - he loves sleeping on my lap):
Saturday night, around 9:30,
I whispered to DH "hey, we need to do the Easter Bunny thing".
DH : "it's so late, do we really have to make a production of it?"
Me: "It's Easter! He needs to get his scavenger hunt! Could you please look for the plastic eggs? I think they're in the basement with the wrapping supplies."
DH a few minutes later, after much sighing and rolling of eyes "I couldn't find the (*&^ plastic eggs."
Si "What's with all the whispering?"
Me "Si, tomorrow is Easter! You're going to have to go to bed soon so that the Easter Bunny can come!"
Si was in the next room, so I didn't SEE the eye-rolling, but I swear on my bag of chocolates, I heard him roll them!
Me to DH "Well, honey, I guess we're just going to have to return what we've bought. Simon is too old for an Easter Scavenger Hunt. He'd rather stay up late than go through all that."
DH "Yea, we'll just run back to Target and return what we've gotten."

Slight "whooshing" as Simon quickly left the computer to go take his bath.

I wrote out about a dozen clues, maybe 15, and DH placed them all, some with scotch tape. The last one led him out "to a car", and, as predicted, Si chose the wrong car first - mwahahahaha!

He got: 2 bags of Dove Dark Chocolates in a basket, with a shredded magazine for "grass", and a Wii, complete with an extra controller and 2 games (Call of Duty and Star Wars Force).

We spent the day taking turns between Wii and regular TV watching. The three of us had rare roast beef and homemade Mac and Cheese for dinner, and then tried out Lego Indiana Jones, borrowed from Si's friend around the corner.

There were no new clothes, no visitors, no pomp or ceremony or candy no one likes. I miss having family here, but Mom and Dad are visiting later in the week for a few days, and we just spent Friday with my sister, so we're sorta covered.

This morning, what got me thinking all contemplative and nostalgic like this was my Dove Candy (dessert after a breakfast of deviled eggs) wrapper that says, on the inside: Life may change us but we start and end with family. Of course, I'm also hoping Mom and Dad bring some Gorant's for us when they come Thursday. :-)

But, you know, family is the center: The creamy, melt-away center of our delicious chocolate Easter Eggs of life.

1 comment:

Jim Brochowski said...

This was the first year the girls both knew the truth about the Easter Bunny. We decided none of us needed candy and such so we didn't hide baskets for them.

We got them a movie they both wanted - Marley and Me - and thought that would be enough.

Easter morning Netter and I were both up early, and the girls (we thought) weren't even stirring. Suddenly my cell phone buzzed and I had a message from my youngest upstairs. "Can we come down yet?"

In the past we'd always made them wait upstairs at Easter (and at Christmas) while we readied cameras and video to capture their reactions to their holiday treasure.

Looking at the text message I really felt like I had let my girls down. They didn't say anything, and haven't said anything yet, but to myself - I thought - what have we lost?

Kudos to you for keeping your traditions with Si, even if he did roll his eyes. ;-)