Easter celebrations have changed through time

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Last Sunday was Easter Sunday on the calendar, a high and holy day for Christians around the world, celebrated many ways, depending partly on people and places and the customs of those folks in those places.

Some marked the day with elaborate services of pomp and ceremony. Others were part of simpler observances. And others didn’t note the day at all.

And so it is with life.

For me, Easter has changed dramatically through the years. I have a faint memory, bolstered by some pictures here and there, of me as a (don’t laugh) cute little 4-year-old dressed in my cream-colored Easter suit complete with bow tie. In that picture, I’m holding my Easter basket while my dad takes in the scene from his seat on the living room couch, apparently approving of the whole thing.

Some years later, after the basket thing and hiding Easter eggs had faded into childhood memories, candy — especially chocolate bunnies — continued appearing where they were easily found. For years, I’d unwrap the cellophane and pretty much eat the whole thing in a bite or three.

Then (and I’m not sure when) I discovered the joy of biting off the ears and saving the mangled body for later. I hope this doesn’t mean I need mental therapy; I have it on good authority that numerous other people also did that.

The first year I did neither was the last year I got a chocolate bunny. I think my mother saw it lying around, still wrapped in cellophane, then finally turning a pale brown before I moved it to my top dresser drawer out of sight. I guess she figured I didn’t really want or appreciate the gift anymore so it stopped appearing.

Of course, the fact I was married, and not living at home had something to do with the end of the bunnies, as well, I think.

Later in life the two 40-somethings who used to be teenagers living at my house came along, we went through the whole routine of Easter outfits and bunnies and egg hunts and all that. We took them to Easter sunrise services at church, then home to large dinners and family gatherings, then to egg hunts at Grandma’s and finally home so I could collapse on the couch before going to bed.

Now that cycle of life is being repeated as grandchildren delight in showing egg collections and the candy in them. And I’m wondering where the time went and when and how I got to this point.

And that’s sort of a nutshell of how my notice of Easter has changed. There’s a place for the Easter bonnets and hunting eggs and such, although live bunnies and colored chickens aren’t great ideas because most folks don’t or won’t take care of them after the 15 minutes of novelty wear off.

What I have come to realize is that all those things — clothes and eggs and Easter dinners and all else — are things we use to celebrate the day and aren’t the things we celebrate themselves. All of those things are material and one day won’t be around.

That’s a thought I try to leave families (and myself) at graveside committals. That particular word from the Book says, “The things which are seen are temporary; it is the things that are not seen that are eternal.”

And that’s what I really like about Easter now. I still like the clothes — think I may get a new hanky or something. And I like to watch the grands find eggs. And I’m especially fond of the ham that graced our dinner table.

But I’m more appreciative of the feeling that moves inside me as I ponder the day, those leading up to it and what it all means — that in life I’ve been given a hope (make that a Hope) and won’t be held back because of the past.

I hope this year as you hunted or hid eggs or put down that last piece of ham or tried to tie that new tie that you didn’t just major on the visible material things.

If that’s how your Easters have been up to now, try the alternative and see if it doesn’t make a difference.

And don’t hide any real eggs in your house and depend on your grands to remember where they are ...

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.

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