Our Easter this year wasn’t traditional. Granted, since we’ve celebrated Easter in several different homes and states over the years, our traditions certainly aren’t set in stone, but a few things have remained constant. Usually I buy the girls coordinating dresses and do their hair in sparkly headbands or flowery clips or curls. Usually I spend quite a bit of time hunting down cute little gifts and candies for their Easter baskets. We go to church. I take lots of pictures. We eat a delicious Easter meal at someone’s (if not our own) home with family gathered around.
I’ve had a lot of fun doing those things. I have fun doing those things, when circumstances allow. This Easter was different. My husband was out of town for three days and flew home Easter morning. We didn’t have any relatives visiting or living nearby. And we’ve been dealing with some situations that have left us feeling exhausted and stressed.
No Easter dresses or fancy shoes were purchased this year. The Easter basket contents were gathered in a quick dash through the grocery store. The “Easter bunny” managed to set up an indoor egg hunt on Easter Eve, but instead of filling eggs with the usual assortment of coins and candies and little egg-sized trinkets, he just stuffed them with plain old Hershey kisses. They weren’t even in pastel wrappers (gasp).
Instead of going to church, we sat on the couch in our pajamas and talked about the Easter story, which we read from the girls' Storybook Bible. We didn’t have a fancy home-cooked meal or go to a special brunch. We belatedly colored some eggs in the afternoon, some of which fell on the floor and broke.
A lot of movies were watched. At 4:00 we were still in our pajamas. At 5:00 we finally dressed ourselves and combed our hair and walked over to the CityCentre, where we ate pizza and tacos and hamburgers outside while listening to a small band that was performing in the courtyard. After dinner, the girls tossed a ball around and then ate some candy out of their eggs.
“I had a really fun Easter, mommy,” my youngest daughter said as I was tucking her into bed.
“I wish it was Easter every day,” my older daughter said as I gave her a kiss goodnight.
Up until that point, I’d been feeling guilty about our “lame” Easter this year. I’d logged onto Facebook and seen all the pretty dresses and church photos and fun family gatherings, and felt like our Easter didn’t match up.
When I heard the girls’ words, I stopped and looked at our day through their eyes. They weren’t comparing people’s hand-stenciled eggs to their splotchy, cracked Paas-dyed ones. They were probably thrilled that I let them handle the egg-decorating process themselves without micro-managing their efforts. I’m sure they loved spending most of the day in their pajamas, and having the time to take a leisurely mid-afternoon bath with the pink bubble bath that was in their baskets.
I bet they much preferred their hamburgers and fries to the spiral ham and scalloped potatoes and chopped brussels sprouts salad I would have typically served. I have a feeling they’ll remember that I snuggled up with them in their sleeping bag fort and watched "Annie" much more fondly than they would have remembered my meticulously decorated dining table. Nobody was telling them to hurry up or to try not to spill on their nice clothes or to say “cheese” 50 times. To them, it was a perfect day.
Does that mean I won’t go dress shopping next year, or look forward to deviled eggs and ham, or strive to get a photo in which everyone is well-groomed and smiling? That I won’t decorate a table with fresh flowers or curl my daughters’ hair for church? No. When circumstances allow, I’ll always love decorating and cooking and making things a little fancy once in a while. I want the girls to have memories of going to church and wearing Easter dresses and gathering together with extended family or friends on holidays.
But I’m not going to worry so much about everything being picture-perfect. And if things don't seem to be going according to plan or tradition, I’m going to remember that what might look like the lamest day ever to me could very possibly look like the best day ever to my kids. I’m going to let myself off the hook. And I’m going to try not to even feel guilty about it.