Easter is a funny old time of year if you’re not a Christian. I’m not a Christian, nor anything else for that matter – I’m flat out a non-believer. So I watch other people’s Easter goings-on and feel quite detached.
I was brought up to believe in the Easter rabbit. He left a chocolate Easter egg in the garden for me and I had to look for it. And sometimes we decorated hard-boiled eggs and rolled them down a very steep brae in the village. You had to roll them as many times as it took for the thing to smash to smithereens, so you could be going up and down those steps to the top of the brae quite a few times!
We’ve done it with the big lad for a few years now but not this year, as we weren’t at home on Easter Sunday this weekend, we were at my parents-in-law’s house in a different part of the country. And the egg decorating and rolling thing, it’s really a “home” thing for me.
A few days ago the big lad asked me if we could decorate eggs and roll them, and I felt awful saying no, we couldn’t, cause we wouldn’t be there on Sunday. “But it’s fun!” he said, downcast.
I won’t make that mistake again – I only hope he’s not too grown-up for it next year. I hadn’t actually realised that this was such a big part of our family tradition for him, ouch. I need to put more thought into safeguarding family traditions for my children. I feel quite awful about slipping up there and I’ll do my utmost not to again.
But anyway, the Easter weekend … If you were lucky, the weather was nice, with buds on the trees and a definite sniff of spring in the air. And you ate your chocolate egg, and got on with your school holidays.
And that was it.
We never said “Happy Easter” to each other because we didn’t (don’t) believe in what the Christians do. Of course, it’s lovely to have an official marker for the start of spring, but all the crosses everywhere, hot-cross buns even, just seem odd. Peculiar. Something that other people do.
I always felt repelled by the idea of a cross and its gory associations but at least living in a “low church” part of the country, and having endured Free Church of Scotland Sunday School for years, I didn’t have to see the effigy of a human attached to it. That really does horrify me.
Now obviously if you are a believer the cross has huge meaning for you, but for someone who doesn’t believe, it’s just a rather sick symbol of a (to us) distinctly peculiar and unbelievable myth. I never liked seeing all these crosses everywhere at Easter and I still don’t. Any more than I would like seeing pictures and representations of Madame La Guillotine cropping up everywhere. I don’t like it, but as I live in what is traditionally a Christian country, I accept it. Even though someone saying “Happy Easter” to me always stops me in my tracks and makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m fine with “Happy Christmas” but “Happy Easter” just feels so alien. I never reply in kind because I can’t. I just say “thank you”. Because I know the people who say it to me mean well.
So Easter comes and goes in this house with no religious observation whatsoever but rather a deep appreciation for the beginning of spring and for two extra days’ holiday which we can spend with family.
And spend it with family I did … I took the children up to my parents on Thursday night and spent two days there which were glorious. Inverness-shire in the warm sun with snow still on the hills is beautiful – who needs to go abroad when we have paradise on our doorstep?
I had to leave on Saturday evening to come back down south, unfortunately, and I completely forgot to buy the big lad and wee lass a chocolate egg. Completely forgot! Luckily my other half picked up my slack like the brilliant father he is and not only got them an egg each but also got me one. (Another thing to be thankful for on this lovely weekend of sun, family, and spring-time: his consideration and thoughtfulness. He’s fabulous. He really is.)
And then it was the wee lass’s turn …
And that was our Easter. I messed up by not doing the egg decorating and rolling thing this year – next year, we’ll do it. I hadn’t realised the big lad regarded it as such a big thing in his family culture, and really, these things are so important aren’t they? They’re bedrock foundations upon which families are built. Your reasons for doing them don’t have to be the same as everyone else’s, but be consistent: just do them. I want them both to have the happy memories. And it’s my job to help create them, and then record them.
From now on, I want to be in the beautiful north for Easter, decorating and rolling hard boiled eggs down the brae in the park with my children, and letting them loose in the garden to look for spoils from the Easter Rabbit. To celebrate the beginning of spring and being with family. And think about all the things I’m so grateful for. My husband, my children, my parents, my brother, my niece, my in-laws and other extended family. That’s all I need for Easter.