As a girl, Easter Sunday was all about three things: the outfit, barbecue, and Jesus. And probably in that order.
My Grammy sewed handmade Easter dresses for all of the grandgirls of
hers. They were the kind that came with puffy sleeves, a white apron, a
dainty collar and a giant bow to tie in the back. The whole outfit was always completed with lacy ruffled socks and mary-jane shoes, white gloves and a bonnet with the same color of ribbon to match my dress. There was, after all, only one Sunday out of the whole year one could wear a hat to church and I looked forward to Easter Sunday every year for that very reason. Oh, and Jesus. Yes, Jesus too.
Growing up, Easter Sunday was called Resurrection Day in our family. My dad was pretty intense about not letting us do egg hunts or have easter baskets so that we could keep our focus on Jesus and His resurrection. And I was mostly okay with not having those things, except I had seen one too many Cadbury Egg commercials and I spent my childhood dreaming about having a basket full of them because they looked UH-mazing. I remember years worth of Easters where my Poppy would walk in the front door, wearing a yellow, button-down shirt, his face all aglow and joyful declaring loudly, "He is risen!" And we would all reply, "He is risen indeed!" We would grill fajitas or some kind of barbecue where my dad had perfected the art of charring the barbecue sauce on a link of sausage, that to this day, no one else in the world knows how to do but him. We spent the day as a family - we would sing and worship and laugh together. Sometimes, my Poppy would talk to us about the importance of this day and what it means to us as believers in Jesus.
Even though I went without baskets full of candy and never dyed a single egg, the weight of the day always sat with me from an early age. Jesus - He never sinned, but was put to death on a cross. He knew every bad thing I would ever do and gave His life so I wouldn't have to give mine - all so He could spend eternity with me in heaven. Every Good Friday we talked about the cross and the crown of thorns, and the beatings He endured. How the nails were driven into His hands and feet. He died and was laid in a tomb. And Sunday was a joyful day of celebration. Because Jesus is God, he conquered death and rose again. He came back to life and still lives and I know He does, because I have seen and experienced Him first hand in my own life.
One year, I outgrew the idea of Grammy's puffy-sleeved dresses and my love for easter bonnets, and as I got older the holiday changed a bit, as did our family. The year after my brother died, my mom gave me and my best friend Kelly small easter baskets full of candy and colorful scrunchies and CD's which was the best surprise ever. My dad seemed a bit grouchy about it, but I saw his eyes soften and sparkle as I excitedly went through my basket of goodies. I think by the time I was 15, he knew what he had been trying to instill in me all those years about Jesus had already been done, and no amount of candy hidden in green, plastic grass would change that.
When Tommy was much younger, I made huge, elaborate toy-filled baskets for him, giving him everything I never had as a child, including Cadbury Eggs, which I discovered at some point, were absolutely disgusting. But a couple of years ago when Tommy asked what he was "getting for Easter," I choked on my Robin's Eggs and realized my dad was on to something back then and maybe I had forgotten a thing or two with all that he ingrained in me from my youth. Since then, baskets have become more of an afterthought. I spend more time with the boys leading up to Easter Sunday, pouring over the gospel accounts in the Bible, because while I want them to have colorful and fun memories to look back on in their childhood, more than anything, I want them to know Jesus the way I have come to over the years.
As our Easter traditions evolve and grow over the year as a family, there are some things I hope always stay the same. Like confetti eggs and Todd's barbecue ribs, and taking communion together as a family. And our annual family easter-egg nose picture. Those are my favorite.
It is a day of joyful celebration, because Jesus is alive.
Easter morning, Resurrection Sunday, my boys had left their small baskets on the coffee table and were sitting on the couch looking at the pages in their devotional about Jesus on the cross and His coming alive again. I listened to them talk and ask each other questions. Tommy read and Jacob pretended that he knew how. To them, Jesus mostly exists in the form of story books and Bible study lessons. He is but mere pictures on paper and they only know of Jesus what they are taught. But someday, all of the stories and lessons, the church-going and song-singing, will hopefully become something more. And as I stood in the kitchen watching my young boys touch the paper-Jesus, I prayed to the Jesus who is very much alive in my heart that He would become to them, what He is to me.