Friday, March 29, 2013
When I was growing up, we went to church at noon on Good Friday. It was a somber service for a somber day, but afterwards we went out for pie at The Landmark, a local restaurant. We spent Saturday coloring Easter eggs in coffee mugs filled with vinegary-smelling dyes. On the years the weather cooperated, we got up in the pre-dawn darkness for sunrise services. When we got home, we hunted for our cellophane-wrapped Easter baskets and searched for the jelly beans my mom had hidden all over the living room. Then we put on our best clothes and our freshly polished shoes and headed off to church where the sanctuary smelled of lilies as we sang "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" and "Up from the Grave He Arose." We came home to Easter dinner, followed by an Easter egg hunt with the real hard-boiled eggs we had dyed the day before. For many days after Easter we took the cracked, colorful eggs in our school lunches with little salt and pepper shakers and ate deviled eggs and pickled eggs for supper. It was the same year after year. Here's the strange thing: I re-created very few of these Easter traditions with my own kids. Our church didn't have a Good Friday service, and most years classes were in session at the college, so I was teaching anyway. My kids didn't like hard-boiled eggs, and it seemed wasteful to color eggs we were going to throw away, so some years we dipped white wax eggs in colored wax instead. I hid my kids' Easter baskets, but I just used the twiggy baskets we had around the house and didn't wrap them in colorful cellophane. Our church had Easter morning services and lilies, but we sang contemporary worship songs rather than "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." Some years, thanks to New York's long spring breaks, we drove to Florida to visit Steve's parents--those years we colored eggs on the patio in the tropical, eighty-degree heat, I packed Easter bags instead of baskets, we wore swimsuits instead of Easter finery and went the beach instead of to church on Easter Sunday. I've spent a good bit of time worrying about this over the years. I'm pretty big on traditions, and yet on this holiest of holidays, somehow I never could quite replicate the Easters of my childhood. It's not the colorful cellophane-wrapped baskets or the Easter egg hunts I'm talking about, it's the Good Friday services, the sunrise services, and the reverence with which my parents approached Easter--those are the things that formed in me an unwavering, unshakeable faith in a loving God. I hope and pray on this Good Friday that despite the piecemeal approach to Easter my kids have experienced over the years, they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt how precious they are to God. And regardless of how they mark these holy days in the years ahead, I hope every Good Friday and every Easter Sunday is a solid reminder of God's amazing grace and love.