As a child growing up Roman Catholic, I remember seeing Easter Sunday as an extra long mass after forty days of no dessert, and no . I remember wishing it was over so I could “get to the best part”: Easter egg hunts, baskets full of plastic grass and goodies, chocolate, candies, eggs prepared in a variety of forms, Easter dinner, and family fun. if we went to the Vigil mass the eve before, I wanted it over so I could go home and the Easter Bunny could come.
Thinking back in this makes me feel like I was an incredibly ungrateful child. I think that I didn’t fully believe the paradigm I grew up in. I cognitively knew we were celebrating the death of a guy who lived and loved a long, long time ago. We celebrated him supposedly coming back to life. I didn’t see it, but everyone said so. My little brain wasn’t in the “holy mystery” mind-frame at all. I wanted my goodies and family time. I only kinda cared about the spiritual side of Easter. I cared more about the material, the commercial, and the tangible side of things.
And maybe that was the problem. I didn’t really discover my spirituality until far later, and will admit it wasn’t entirely in the religion in which I was raised. I look at the holiday though a different lens.
Maybe it was the different symbologies in the holiday that distracted me. I was shocked when a Christian religion teacher said that a number of the symbols I associated with Easter were the same as the Pagan celebration of Spring. After all, Jesus was the one true son of the one true God. Weren’t all other religions, according to this paradigm, incorrect and condemned? Why, then, borrow symbols and either use them the same or repurpose them? It didn’t make sense. This line of curiosity distracted me from the core message of the holiday: God loves us.
Perhaps the commercialism turned my heart from the message. I mean, who or what can beat chocolate, goodies, and time spent with family? Before Easter, we change the color of the eggshells to bright or pastel shades of the rainbow. We start the holiday with a game of hide and seek (in which those hiding are the inanimate, brightly-colored eggs. Kinda unfair for the “hiders,” isn’t it, to make them stand out like that?). Then we get a basket full of presents we can use immediately and candy we can eat all day long.
Now, I still enjoy the gifts, but focus more on spending time with family. I help sibs dye Easter eggs and hide them while the younguns sleep. I assist Mamma in the kitchen to prepare dinner and snacks for everyone, chat with my dad, catching up with the older of my little siblings, visiting with friends (which are also family), eat delicious food, and spend quality time the whole while.
I guess that is what Easter is to me. It isn’t the commercialism. It isn’t the presents received (though I still like giving them). It is the strength of my family. It is the wonderful time spent with them. It is smiling and laughter, games and goofiness, chatting and good times. It may not hold the religious significance to me as it does to some, but this holiday is something good for my soul. It lifts my spirit and brings joy to my heart.