For someone who has no memories of believing in Santa Claus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have no memories of believing in the Easter bunny either. Not that believing in a fictional rabbit is necessarily important to growing up but I don’t even have a memory of hunting for Easter eggs either. Maybe that is not surprising given I grew up in a home where my dad was a Presbyterian minister and the true meaning of Easter was always stressed. I recently had the opportunity to go through my parent’s photo albums from 50 years ago and while there were pictures of us dressed up in our Easter finery, there were no photos of us searching for hidden eggs in our backyard. But my Easter memories of our kids growing up are quite different.
Since our children were my wife’s parent’s first grandchildren, they were exposed to all of the fun activities grandparents would want to have with their grandchildren. So our kids experienced the Easter bunny, Easter baskets, and hunting for Easter eggs early on.
After Easter service, we would go to Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house to find Easter baskets waiting for us on the stairs. There would even be an Easter basket for my wife and I as well which I really appreciated since it was a time in my life when I could eat whatever candy I wanted without regret. Then after breakfast, one of us would head outside to hide eggs for the kids to hunt for. I remember my excited anticipation when one of our children would get close to where I knew an egg was hidden and then see the glee on their face when they eyed the little colorful prize.
Often times, after all the eggs had been found, we would hide them again for another hunt. But occasionally, some of the eggs wouldn’t survive more than one hunt as they would fall from their basket as the children raced from one location to another to be the first to find the most eggs.
When our kids got older and they learned an Easter bunny didn’t actually bring the eggs, we would dye eggs together. And it just so happened that I worked for the company that made all of those egg dying kits so I could bring home all kinds of fun items to play with. This activity was always one I looked forward to every year.
When our kids were older, another Easter afternoon activity would be going to look at new homes. We would all pile into Granddaddy’s car and drive to neighborhoods where new construction was occurring. We’d not only go through recently finished homes and see ideas for maybe our next home, we’d also go through homes still under construction and try to imagine what the home would look like when the construction was complete. Seeing homes under construction was a particularly enjoyable activity for us three boys.
Then that evening, we would go to the home belonging to the mother of my wife’s lifelong friend for a big Easter dinner.
It would be a day lovingly spent with family and friends and delicious food and candy and hopefully a nap somewhere along the way. And it is these memories that I know our three children have that they can share with their own children in the future.
While these memories are in stark contrast to those of my own childhood, there is one Easter memory of my mother’s that lives on to this day. After all of my siblings and I had moved out of the house and were no longer able to attend Easter service with my parents, my mother would call us early on Easter morning and without even saying hello first would state:
“The Lord is risen.”
To which our expected reply was:
“He is risen indeed.”
Even though our parents are long gone, my siblings and I carry this tradition on but with a modern twist—we text the greeting to each other and await the expected reply. In fact, some years, there is a little bit of competition to see who will be the first to text.
So early on this Easter morning, this will be the text message that flies out through the airwaves recalling that familiar call from our mom and all of the other wonderful Easter memories that each of us have.