I spent some time yesterday remembering Easters past, and I realized, though while I was growing up, my family was not really religious, Easter was a pretty good holiday for us.
We always went to church on Easter. For a few years, we were regularly attending the First Baptist Church in town, so we went there. However, most of the time, we went to my grandmother’s church. She wouldn’t darken the door of the First Baptist Church because the preacher had once dropped the door on her instead of holding it open when she was walking behind him into a store. I’m pretty sure the whole congregation was condemned to purgatory for the preacher’s actions.
I was happier going to my grandmother’s church than to the First Baptist Church. At least grandmother gave us gum, even if it was just half a stick. (She was too cheap to let my sister and me each have our own stick of gum, so she would break it in half for us. She said it still tasted the same, and I guess she was right.) At least at my grandmother’s church, no one glared at me.
At the First Baptist Church, my whole Sunday school class hated me for some reason. I’m pretty sure it was because I was not as holy and righteous as they were, but I can’t be too sure. All I know is, Mia Talcom used to glare at me during the prayers. I would feel eyes on me, and I would look up to find her ugly face glaring at me. For the entire time we attended that church, that girl hated me, and her posse did too, and I never even knew what I had done wrong. (*Note: changed after original posting...I first did not change this person's name because I figured no one would ever know who it was anyway. I didn't think I could even spell her name right. However, my sister immediately sent me a link to this person's Facebook page. Apparently, I remembered how to spell her name correctly, so she was really easy to find! So, as much as I hated to, I changed the name to protect the not-so-innocent. By the way, she still isn't too pretty and still has an unpleasant look on her face. And she wears too much makeup. That is all.)
Then, there was the kid who stabbed me with the pencil. I don’t remember him name. I’m not even sure I knew his name back then, but he attacked me with a pencil. I was there, in all my Easter fanciness, with my pink dress, white floppy hat and white gloves. In the middle of children’s church, the kid reached over and stabbed my hand and my pretty white glove with a pencil. I carried that lead mark under my skin until I was 40 years old….a reminder of how much the First Baptist Church children disliked me. It finally disappeared sometime a few years ago. I guess my wounds have been healed.
Let me be honest here. It definitely wasn’t the church services I looked forward to on Easter. It was the candy. (It’s still the candy. I love, love, love Easter candy….much more than I should! I try not to buy it as much anymore, but I still love it. I love the bright colors and pretty packages and happy bunnies and chicks. What’s not to love?) In Easters of my childhood, it was the candy that made me look forward to Easter. Well, it was the candy and the swimming.
Every year, regardless of the temperature outside, my daddy would open the pool during the week before Easter. By Easter Sunday, it would be ready to swim in. It could be 70 degrees outside and colder in pool, but it did not matter. On Easter, my sister and I were going swimming. It might only be for five minutes, and we might be blue and shivering by the time we were finished, but we WERE going swimming. It was one tradition we lived for.
Since having my own kids, I have tried to carry on at least some of the traditions I had as a child on Easter. The Beetle used to always get new Easter outfits. Sometimes, to Mr. Everything’s dismay, those outfits involved white knee-high socks. That slowly turned into the Beetle getting a new dress shirt on Easter and finally ended this year with him wearing whatever was clean.
The Goose has managed to always get a new dress for Easter. That’s probably because she was willing to go shopping with me. She also reminds me relentlessly that we need to go shopping until I take her shopping. I have gotten a new Easter dress for most years. There were a few where I just wore something from my closet. In my mind, I was clothed in that pretty pink dress with my white floppy hat and white gloves (minus the pencil mark).
My kids have gone swimming at my parents’ pool for most Easters of their lives. This year, though, the pool sat quiet and empty as all the grandchildren had “better” things to do with their time.
One of my favorite Easter memories was about nine years ago. The Beetle was about nine, and the Goose was about five. It did not actually happen on Easter Sunday, but it involves the resurrection of Christ, so I’m counting it as an Easter memory. (I just wanted to tell you this story. It’s really funny.)
We went with a group from our church to a theme park in Orlando called, “The Holy Land Experience.” This was sort of a strange place is it was sort of an amusement park, but it was built on the idea of Biblical times. The whole place was made to look like various places read about in the Bible. The schedule of show times was built around the life of Jesus, and the final performance was a processional through the park with Jesus carrying the cross. Then, they showed Jesus nailed to the cross and crucified. I was concerned about this whole idea as I was not sure my kids were ready to see this. The entire day, I had an uneasy feeling about letting them watch the “show.” Most of the people in our group acted like I was silly, but I just really was not sure whether my kids were old enough and mature enough to handle watching Jesus die on the cross. I could only hope the acting would be bad as that would lessen the intensity of it.
When the time came for the final “show,” I told Mr. E to help me keep an eye on the kids. I had an escape route planned to get my kids out of there if I decided it was too much for them to watch. The processional began, and my kids were glued to every movement. As the actors led Jesus through the street, and he struggled to carry his cross, they were enthralled. As they led him up the hill, the Goose and the Beetle did not blink. As they pretended to nail Jesus to the cross, my kids were wide-eyed. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and beginning to wonder if I should take my babies and run. Then, the Beetle leaned over to ask me a question I will never forget.
As I leaned down to hear him, and I braced myself to give him an honest answer, he said, “Mama. I have a question.” “What, baby?” I asked. With the most serious face, he said, “How much does that actor get paid to let them nail him to the cross?”
I’m pretty sure it’s inappropriate to laugh during the crucifixion, but I just couldn’t stop. I told Mr. E what the Beetle had just asked, and he started laughing too. We had to walk away from the “show,” but it was not for the reason I had anticipated.
Though the Beetle has grown and matured since them, I can never be fully prepared for what will come out of that kid’s mouth. I have crazy kids, and we’ve spent some crazy Easters together. While it seems our “little kid” Easters are over, I have memories I will never forget. -Al