Let me start by saying this post is not about religion or religious behaviour. This post is about family. And memories.
I am a non-practicing Catholic. Make of that what you will, respectfully. When we reach a point in the calendar that celebrates a christian-based celebration, such as Easter or Christmas, I am confronted by questions of meaning. What does this celebration mean to me? What should it mean to my family? Should we go to Mass? How much chocolate is too much? Is the Easter Bunny real?
Easter snuck up on me this year. I was caught short at the last minute. We planned to spend the weekend away. Just us and the kids. And then I thought HOW WILL THE EASTER BUNNY FIND US? Panic set in and I found myself spending too much money ensuring sufficient Easter treats for Easter morning.
Guess what? The silly Easter Bunny accidentally bought only dark chocolate treats. Not a favourite. But points to my kids for being gracious about it. [“Mummy, do you think we should write a letter to the Easter Bunny asking if he’d mind not bringing dark chocolate next year?”]
And then I thought, why do we stress about this? The chocolate at Easter, the gifts at Christmas, even the sweets at Halloween cause me stress! (The fact that I always seem to leave these things to the last minute isn’t quite my point.)
So this morning I found myself sitting with a cup of tea and a large quantity of dark chocolate, wondering. What exactly is so important about all these occasions? And then it struck me. Memories.
What do I remember of Easter as a child? Not the eggs, that’s for sure. What I remember is a mess of cousins and aunts and uncles all spending time together. Same goes for Christmas. I remember roast meals on scorching hot Australian summer Christmas Days. I remember beach races with my cousins. I remember sitting in the back of the church wondering why the grown ups found the droning priest so interesting (hint: they didn’t). I remember masses of wrapping paper strewn all over the floor of my grandparent’s lounge room and us all piling into the car to head off to the beach.
I don’t remember how many Easter eggs I got, or how many Christmas gifts I got, or how much anything cost. I remember being with my family. And in those memories it was always sunny and full of laughter. Those memories are precious, especially as my broader family are now scattered to the four winds.
So, if you can’t afford the trips away or the expensive eggs or the latest technological gadget for your kids, just remember this. What they will remember is the most precious gift you have to give them – your time. Nothing can beat that. Not even chocolate.
Happy Easter (and if Easter isn’t your thing, please accept my very best wishes in the spirit of love and renewal, the spirit of Easter),