We are not a religious family. In fact, several years ago my daughter, in her late 30s at the time and a mother herself, said rather plaintively in response to my invitation to Easter dinner: “What, exactly, is Easter about?”
Determined that our children, who have never shown any interest in organized religion, not be totally ignorant of what is, for Christians, the most important religious event in their calendar, my partner and I decided it was time for some education. However, the truth was that our own knowledge, beyond the basic “it’s the day Jesus rose from the dead” was a bit spotty.
Looking for faith
When I was a teenager, I went through a phase of wanting to find religion, to have faith, to believe in a greater power. It was short-lived and entirely unsuccessful but, while immersed in it, I engaged in every ritual my family’s Anglican church had to offer. In the weeks leading up to Easter, I did a 15-year-old’s version of self-sacrifice for Lent, went to church service after church service, attended church on Palm Sunday, walked myself through the Stations of the Cross, went to the three-hour Good Friday service and then, of course, went back for more on Easter. (I also happily participated in my family’s Easter egg hunt and thoroughly enjoyed the chocolates and other candy provided by the Easter rabbit. No inconsistencies, there.)
How to educate our children? We smoked a joint, then made a quick trip to the bookstore and returned home with a children’s picture book called something like “A Child’s Guide to Easter.” This, we read to our assembled children and grandchildren, bribed with pre-meal chocolate in exchange for their attention, at the beginning of our family Easter dinner. It answered a few questions for them – Why do people give up something they like during Lent? What happened on Palm Sunday? What was the Last Supper? – but raised even more — Why palm branches? What was the foot washing at the last supper all about? How can someone rise from the dead? – that we felt ill-equipped to answer.
We gave up and embarked on our meal, which was really what everyone was the most interested in.
For us, Easter is just an excuse to bring our family and, often, friends, together for a meal, conversation and fun. It’s a long weekend, which makes it easier for those who live out of town to spend a few days with us. Often, the weather is starting to feel spring-like (or we can convince ourselves of that for a few hours). We have young grandchildren with whom we decorate eggs. I make hot cross buns that I deliver to friends around town. One year, we had a scavenger hunt through the neighbourhood.
Not this year
We can’t do any of that this year. Mind you, it is hard to kick past habits. I put a carton of small white eggs – perfect for colouring — in my cart when I was at the supermarket the other day, without even thinking about it. A friend bought a large ham and then remembered she would be cooking Easter dinner just for two this year.
I figured my daughter would have some kind of creative plan in mind – she has really risen to thriving her way through the current situation — but when I asked her, hoping for inspiration, I got this response:
“Ummm, we are not. I kind of forgot about it, to be honest, which is a bit odd, but also not – as you know, I usually forget about Good Friday until I’m staring down at my empty liquor cabinet on Thursday night. . . . Usually I’m good for Easter treats, and they’ve gone right off my radar. I have made some salted caramel chocolate chip squares, which will have to do. . . .We will be curating our meats based on what we have in the fridge and freezer, as we are trying to go two weeks between grocery trips . . . we’ll see.”
Unlike my daughter, I never forget that stores are closed on Good Friday. I did yet another giant grocery shop at Farm Boy on Wednesday (where would we be in this pandemic without food?). To ensure we would be well supplied with liquor over the weekend, I put on a face mask for the first time and stood in my first-ever line to get into the LCBO yesterday (where would we be without booze in this pandemic?).
As I look out at yet another grey, chilly day, with snow falling, I lack inspiration to do anything at all. The dozen eggs intended for colouring will become, instead, egg salad to keep us in sandwiches for days for days to come. With no grandchildren around and all public spaces shut down, there will be no candy or scavenger hunt. No point in an Easter bonnet with nowhere to go in it.
Maybe just one batch of hot cross buns, though. . . .