In Stories From My Life

Just before going to bed tonight, Sophia tells me, “You know what my favorite holiday is?” “What?” I ask, walking into my bathroom. “It was this Easter” she replied. I stopped and smiled, feeling so relieved. This Resurrection Day I had purposed to change things up and, as a parent, I was scared.

Instead of speeding up, we slowed down during Holy Week, making room to ask questions and talk about the Resurrection: why it makes sense and why we believe. We let the stillness in.

When it comes to holidays, I generally go Big. REAL. BIG. Bigger than I often post on FB. Especially for Christmas and Easter.

As a widowed mom, my rational has been that I want my kids to feel like their childhood was AMAZING, even if their dad is in heaven. And, frankly, crafting that endless holiday magic can be exhausting. I am running the whole time.

It has not been unusual for our family to attend no less than FOUR Easter egg hunts in a 48 hour period. Then I orchestrate the Easter meal and include a full day of presents and fun. I’ve done it for years. My girls have been thrilled, loaded with (organic) candy and gifts.

I’m completely spent.

I was so busy trying to make their holiday moments magical that, in my rushing and buying, I missed those deeply nourishing moments for myself. The holiday felt hollow. Like when you eat candy and are still hungry.

I was afraid to let the stillness and simplicity happen during Resurrection Day for fear that it wouldn’t be enough for my daughters. I didn’t want to feel that parental sense of failure if I should see disappointment in my girls’ eyes during a holiday.

This was our first year shifting focus and scaling back. No rabbits. No rushing about. I bought packaged smoked salmon and pita bread for our holiday lunch. We had fish sticks and french fries for dinner. Minimal prep and expense.

We went to a sunrise service at a cemetery. It felt oddly right to be in a courtyard surrounded by crypts, talking about God’s power swallowing up death as the sun rose on the grave markers and the music swelled in the early morning mist. The Resurrection is why we have hope and empowerment in our lives after loss. It’s where the rubber meets the road.

It. Changes. Everything.

My daughters and I quietly talked about what it all meant at Yeshua’s (Jesus’) empty garden tomb at Arlington Cemetery.

This is the cemetary where my late husband’s ashes are interned. Jason died during Holy Week ten years ago. His service was on Maundy Thursday. Maybe that’s why I’ve rushed about during this time in years past, an avoidance of grief.

Returning home after sunrise, we had a Hidden Treasure hunt. I told the girls that God often hides gifts for us in the ordinary parts of life. We have to dig for it, look beyond, behind and deeper into our circumstances to discover the hidden blessings.

I dialed back how many gifts they got this season. Were my daughters initially disappointed at their lack of loot? Yes. Watching them adjust was uncomfortable for me.

But then, my girls, ever the optimists, eventually celebrated their Bert’s Bees lip gloss and a few other small gifts. I held steady when they asked if that was all.

Then we planned moments of fun together. We blew bubbles outside in the sunshine. We laughed and played games on our trampoline for a nice part of the day.

Tonight, getting ready for bed, Sophia said, “Mom, my heart is content. I could imagine the history of it (the Resurrection). I loved today and I have peace.” “Yes, Mom, today was a really good day” Arie added. Though, for the record, Arie would like a small Easter egg hunt. I will accommodate that request tomorrow, but with a fun twist of doing it at night with flashlights (don’t tell her).

This holiday time actually refreshed me and my kids. My soul feels satisfied, like after a feast.

I’m sharing this part of our lives because I was scared to disappoint my kids by shifting our holiday focus to what felt right for us at this time.

Maybe there’s another parent out there who gets this gig and is contemplating a celebrational change that feels right to you.

I just want to encourage you that the simplicity we experienced this week was beautiful. It was also unnerving sometimes, but in the end, it was enough. More than enough.

Today was peaceful and rich in new and fresh ways. We had contented joy, and that’s a gift too big to wrap.

Okay, what about you? Have you simplified your holidays? I’d like more ideas and to know how you did it…

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