Tuesday, March 29, 2005

easter follies

We had what was, all things considered, a decent Easter weekend.

Around noon Saturday, we took the girls to an Easter egg hunt at the university. (On a random aside, I've been going on a hunt for easter eggs myself on Disk 2 of "The Incredibles" and have been pleased with what I've found -- about seven of them so far, including sock puppet version of the movie.) There was some confusion about how we were supposed to sign in, and the girls missed -- just -- the hunt intended for the little kids. Frustrating, to say the least, because they would have been able to compete better in that one.

After that, they took part in the hunt that was meant for all the kids and that, sadly, was a rout. Evangeline managed to get six eggs, and Rachel got three. How're a 5- and 2-year-old supposed to compete with 40 other kids, some of whom are practically teens? It was crushing to see as their father, particularly when the hunt was over and hordes of kids are counting "20! 21! 22!" as they rack up their gains. Evangeline was in tears, because she really wanted to gather more.

There were some frustrating things, like the adult who took the egg I was trying to point out to Evangeline, but there were some bright spots too. Another parent saw Evangeline walking to an egg up in a tree and handed it to her, and when Evangeline was feeling inconsolable after the hunt, I could see a boy her age struggling with whether he should share some of his prizes. (He decided not to, but it was nice to see him feeling badly for her.)

Luckily, the organizers had planned for such a contigency, and had packages of consolation eggs stashed away for children who had gathered fewer than 10 eggs, so Evangeline ended up cheering up considerably. Fortunately, it was after I had managed to convince her that the important thing was that she had had fun looking for them.

Afterward, we dyed eggs and Evangeline was in heaven.

And in what must surely count as some form of sacrilege, Natasha and I took some deviled Easter eggs to a potluck dinner that night.

Easter, though, was a blast.

A few years ago I started to lament that the whole of our family traditions concerning Easter involved food: We eat ham, mashed potatoes, green beans mixed with cream of mushroom soup and topped with french onions, and biscuits. And that's just pregnant with meaning, isn't it? Well, I started the ball rolling and we've been adding some meaningful traditions.

First, there's the eggs. We take a runny egg and hard boil it. What does this signify? The transformation of our lives when we commit ourselves to following Christ. Next we put the egg in the dye and change its color. So it is when we immerse ourselves in Christ -- gradually we change and take on his likeness.

Then there's the Easter basket. It's hidden, and we look for it. It's a parable about the kingdom of God and our search for Christ. We search high and low, and we find him, it's a cause for celebration.

Natasha and I took the Easter meal and added some stuff at the beginning that we borrowed from the Passover seder Jews celebrate each year. That is, we're using some of the same elements, but we're reinterpreting them. The horseradish becomes the bitterness of our sins; the apple is the comfort that God provides for us in taking away the full measure of the cost our sin carries. We dip the parsley into salt water to symbolize the tears of this life and the new life that we have been promised.

We would have had wine, to symbolize joy and the Holy Spirit, but alas! I forgot the wine until Sunday, when all the liquor stores were closed. (But we're getting better. This year we had more of the elements than we did last year.) Dinner includes some Scripture readings about Good Friday and Easter Sunday and if we had had the wine, we would have celebrated Communion.

I even had planned to have an extra glass of wine on the table, although, since we believe Elijah already came to prepare the way for the Messiah, I had Evangeline open the door to invite Christ into our home, not just in the immediate sense, but also for the Second Coming. Next year, of course, who wouldn't want to celebate Easter Sunday in the Kingdom of God?

So I was feeling pretty good about it. Things were a little disorganized and we had to reheat the mashed potatoes, but we used two longstanding Easter traditions (the basket and the eggs) to relate spiritual truths to our children, and we turned our Easter dinner from simply another large meal into what hopefully will be a long-lasting family tradition that will teach our children the foundation of our faith.

And today, Easter Monday, the girls watched "Jesus Christ Superstar," which is to date my preferred Passion play.

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