I was five when I realized that Easter was something. From my kindergarten classmates I learned about things like bunnies, colored eggs, baskets and small green nests made out of special grass. We lived in upstate Minnesota then and sometimes snow was also a factor. I remember very little of how the world was at such a tender age, but I do have a kind of blurry vision of Easter morning that year.
Deep down I knew that our house must surely be on the Easter Bunny’s manifest, listing all the children who qualified for bright eggs and chocolate. Other kids talked about the little nests that were tucked into nooks and corners all around the house just waiting to be found by eager hunters. This was back before the shiny cellophane grass we see now not only in green, but yellow, pink and purple, too. No, this grass was made of something else, a little bit dull and waxy. It formed a tidy little nest in your hand and tucked perfectly into corners or under chairs.
I was certain Mom and Dad knew all about this, too. After all, for weeks Dad would sing “Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail” to the four of us. He had a way of building excitement for all special occasions. I loved that about him. So the night before Easter I was beyond excited about what I’d find the next morning.
I got up very early to beat my sisters out. Our brother, Tim, was an infant so I wasn’t worried about him. I crept down the stairs in the small two story house we were renting from my grandfather. I began my hunt for Easter eggs in earnest. I found nothing. I checked everywhere I thought that happy little rabbit might have set down a nest. I found nothing. Perplexed, I went into the kitchen. Had the Easter Bunny put everything in one room? I searched and searched and then I saw something way on top of the refrigerator. I dragged a chair over , climbed up and peeped over the edge where I saw . . . a partially eaten cake. There may have been some green tinted coconut on top and a few jelly beans scattered, but that could have been my childish imagination wanting so badly for something of Easter to be there for me. I was one crushed little girl.
It took the distance of many years and a few quiet conversations with Mom to realize what had happened. When I was five my parents were poor. Poor. They were also very young and probably overwhelmed with their responsibilities. Green grass, dyed eggs, baskets and chocolate were beyond their means to provide for us no matter what romantic notions we may have had about the day. The cake was leftover from a card game the night before. Mom also told me that she and Dad were pretty sure we kids wouldn’t realize there should be something special for children at Easter. They may have been right about my siblings. But not me. I knew.
And I know now, too. I know what Easter really is. I know Who died and why He did it. I know there's something special at Easter for every single one of us. But I've given up childish notions of bunnies and candy and waxy grass as anything akin to what the day is about. Yes, I understand the symbols of Spring. I love them. I dyed eggs with my children and gave them candy and do so now for my grandchildren. I don’t ever want them to be disappointed like I had been that first Easter of my memory. But we talk about the real Easter, too.
Here is what Easter is now for the big grown up me.
If you celebrate the Resurrection, I hope for you the most blessed of Easters.
He is Risen Indeed!