Today is Easter Sunday. “Easter” what does it really mean to you? As a non believer what does it mean to me?
My family are Catholic and I remember Easters of old. The “celebrations” began officially in our house in true Catholic style, with Good Friday. Don’t be fooled by the name, there is nothing “good” about it. A day we could not eat meat, and were allowed only one main meal and two smaller ones. There was no alcohol, and most shops and all pubs were closed. We attended church to “do the stations”. I remember it well as one of the most boring days of the year.
The next day was a big improvement because in our house Lent ended at 12 midday not midnight. Most of my friends disagreed, but I am sure they were just very jealous. At midday we would begin to break into the eggs and any other chocolate we could find.
Easter Sunday itself was a day when we wore new clothes, usually bought with warmer days of Summer in mind, so we froze. We continued to eat whatever eggs we had left. We always went to Mass, but even though I could feel this was a day of church celebration, it never really meant much to me.
Now I have children of my own, I have developed a real A la Carte Easter. A little bit of everything.
My four children are too old for the Easter Bunny, or so you might think. However despite them ranging in age from 22 to 12 they still insist we hide eggs. So the day began with a most competitive egg hunt, too competitive perhaps as my son got quite a nasty bang to the head. Next year in the interest of health and safety helmets will be provided!
Afterwards we all went to Mass. As I have no belief I must admit I struggle with this one. Not in the way you might think though. I don’t actually mind going and sitting through Mass, but I do feel hypocritical. I feel I shouldn’t be there. I know I am welcome but I feel it is disrespectful of me to sit there and listen to the priest, when in my heart I am arguing all the way through. However I did go for two reasons. One, it means a lot to my husband for us all to go, and two my children I think still believe in God. I have no intention of bursting their bubble, as I have seen the comfort my friend has got from her faith since her young son died. Maybe in time my children will need such a comfort in their lives, I’d hate to be the one to have taken it from them. If they decide themselves that they no longer have faith well and good, but I’d prefer it to be their own choice not mine.
And so we all sat at Mass and then we headed home, for the mega dinner. Turkey and all the trimmings. Again I wondered why? Why do I make such a big deal of an event I have no allegiance to whatsoever.
As the dinner was cooking we decided to go to say hi to Dan. A quick trip to the graveyard seemed to be necessary. All this happiness and this beautiful day was wonderful, but I couldn’t let go and relax until I’d called by. Off we went with a few flowers from the garden. Even though I wanted to go, it really never does me any good. As I stand there and admire the beautiful views from his grave, I look at his photo on the cross over his grave. His handsome cheeky grin exactly captures the happy boy he was. I always feel a huge sense of his loss. We stayed but a moment, said “Happy Easter Dan”, and then moved on.
As we walked away I was struck by the enormity of what we were doing. We were walking away from the grave of a thirteen year old boy and following my daughter across the path. In her hand was a small bunch of daisys, her Easter present to young Ben, aged six, who was buried close by. Another little boy who would never grow up. How sickening was that.
Leaving the graveyard I couldn’t help the tears from falling. It was beyond sad. Two little boys who had left behind such a huge hole in the lives of all who knew them.
Yet now hours later writing this I know what Easter means to me. It mightn’t be the big church celebration it is meant to be but it is a celebration. It is a day we share as a family. A lighthearted day of fun, games, chocolate and eating together. It is one of those very special family times. A tradition my family will always remember. And a chance to be glad and appreciate all we’ve got.
So I say (perhaps a little tongue in cheek) Thank God for Easter!. 🙂