Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Changes

When my daughter was born, I couldn't wait to share all of my family holiday traditions with her. I quickly realized that you can pass the traditions on, you can share the memories, but it will never be the same as when you were a kid because the people and places are different. You have to help your child make their own treasured memories that they can take with them into their own lives, and share with their children many years down the road.

One of the things I added was an egg hunt. I always wanted to do one as a child, but for what ever reason, we just didn't do that in our family. My husband's family did though, and I felt it was a nice blending of our families traditions. We live too far from my family to go to grandma's house, so we do a basket hunt at home. Sometimes we make the two hour drive to my husband's hometown where either his sister or mother will host a dinner and egg hunt.

It's not the reliable every-year-it's-the-same Easter I had as a child, but it's fun, and it's ours. I just hope we are making the kind of memories that my girls will carry fondly in their hearts and tell their kids about one day.

Easter Past


As a kid, Easter was a mixed bag holiday for me. It was great because we got a basket full of toys, jelly beans, bunnies made of creamy milk chocolate, and crosses made of smooth white chocolate. But then there was the trip to Grandma's house which meant church on Sunday.

 My brothers and I would ride in the back of our parents station wagon two hours down the interstate to my grandma's house. We were supposed to sleep, but I loved to lay on my back and look out the window at all the stars. There were always so many more on the road to Grandma's than in our back yard.

We would arrive late on Friday, play all day Saturday, color a million eggs Saturday night, then go to bed with images of bunnies and chicks dancing in our heads.

Sunday morning we would all get up early, put on our new church clothes and stiff dress shoes, and walk across the street to church. Easter church always seemed to be the longest church service ever.

First there was Sunday school, which was actually pretty fun. There was singing and playing, and coloring, and story telling, but then it was time to go sit and listen to the pastor.

The benches were hard, the speeches were boring, the pauses were long and in weird spots. He shouted random words - and they were never funny words.

But worst of all, we all knew that back home hidden in the house somewhere was a huge basket filled with sugary goodness just waiting for us to find it. That basket was the only thing that kept us from disintegrating into wild heathens. We knew we had to behave if we wanted to find that basket. It was our light at the end of the church tunnel.

Finally, the cue to rise for the final prayer would be given. We would stand there, me, my two brothers, and our two cousins, all in a row, twitching and fidgeting. Each of us planning our hunting strategy, wanting to be the first to find our basket. We would impatiently file slowly out of the worship area, down the ramp to the lobby where we would have to wait again for the grown-ups to chat and mingle as they filed out the doors. There were always the older ladies, friends of our grandma, who would fawn over us and how big we had gotten from the year before, how precious we looked in our dresses and suits. Then we were at the door, shaking hands with the pastor, wishing him a happy Easter, barely maintaining our civility. Then we were out the door and on the sidewalk, church and any semblance of decorum behind us as we ran full speed toward the street and grandma's house beyond. We knew enough to stop at the street, link hands, and look both ways before we darted out but as soon as we hit the gravel on the other side of the pavement, it was a free for all.

We would burst through the door, pausing only long enough to throw off our jackets if it was a cold year, then the hunt was on.

Grandma's house had all kinds of nooks and crannies for the Easter Bunny to stash a basket. We had an unspoken rule between the five of us, if we found someone else's basket, we didn't say anything, not wanting to ruin the fun for them. Once all the baskets were found, there was the group picture. The successful hunters.

I can still remember the smells and sounds even though it's been more than 20 years since my last Easter at grandma's house. Ham and scalloped potatoes in the oven, the grown-ups in the kitchen talking, laughing, the crinkle of Easter grass in the baskets as we rooted for jelly beans and robins eggs that sifted to the bottom, the dog's nails on the linoleum floor as she danced from one kid to the next waiting for her opportunity to snatch a dropped candy.

That was when life was so easy. We didn't know it then, but it was.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Yesterday was the two year anniversary of my brother's passing. Time hasn't made it hurt any less. The wound is still jagged and raw.

I've always felt that as long as you tell stories about a loved one who has passed, then they really haven't died because their memory and spirit lives in those stories and remembrances. In that vein, I'm re-posting the speech that I wrote for Calvin's funeral service.

This past week, I’ve thought a lot about my brother.  I’ve remembered wild stunts, crazy stories, long lost friends and enemies, and I’ve finally gotten the back story on so many jokes.  But I sadly realized just how little I really knew about my own brother.  We had our rough patches growing up.  It’s inevitable when you are as close as we were.  But as we got older, the petty childhood bickering faded into the past, and we would talk more.  Never about anything serious or deep, just about day to day life and our kids.  We would talk for hours about nothing at all, but somehow the conversation would always get back to his girls. 
 Cal loved children, especially his girls.  They are his pride and joy.  The true loves of his life, and he would do anything for them.  The last time I went to see him, he showed me a playhouse he had built for Gabby.  It was wonderful!  It had real windows, a light inside, and a little covered porch.  It was a masterpiece and a perfect example of his talent.  He had built it from scraps of this and leftovers of that.  Gabby was so proud of the little house that her daddy had built, she couldn’t wait to show it off.  That was one thing she definitely got from her daddy, Pride. 
 Cal was always so proud of his family and friends.  He loved everyone, and it was almost impossible not to love him back.  Don’t get me wrong.  There were times when you really weren’t happy with him, but you always loved him, and you knew that he always loved you too.  He was always ready with a good strong hug.  A “Love ya, Sis.”  Mum says he always gave the best hugs, and it’s true.  He could have taught a class on it.  They were always just right. 
 Though we talked now and then on the phone, it was always in the back of my mind, “I should call Cal and see what he’s up to,” but it would get put off.  There were errands to run, chores to do.  My regret is that I didn’t make the time to call my little brother more often, just to say “Hi”.  I let life get in the way. 
 Last week things changed.  Priorities were shifted.  Despite the prayers of thousands, God felt it was time for Calvin to come home.  Friday morning he slipped peacefully through the gates into the arms of loved ones who had gone before him.  They will be catching up on all those wonderful hugs that I'm sure they missed. 
 I know the full reality of this has not hit me yet.  It may not for a while.  But I also know that someday I too will pass through those gates, as we all will, and Cal will be there, arms open, ready to give me one of his wonderful hugs.