My five siblings, who are scattered across the country, periodically create new opportunities to revert to birth-order roles of teasing, nagging and bragging through strings of text messages.
Our latest banter began on St. Patrick’s Day morning in response to my sister’s electronic picture of leprechaun invasions. Her kids were delighted to find the milk and pancakes had turned green and little green footprints were left on the toilet seat, proving that even leprechaun’s bodily fluids, when not flushed properly, are green as well.
I responded with pictures of my two youngest children who spent their entire Saturday morning constructing leprechaun traps with masking tape, gold rocks and any household item that was green.
Two of my brothers, who are indignant by choice, feigned to be flabbergasted. Those boys who were raised and loved by the very same parents, who plagued Grandpa’s Easter egg hunts with relentless competiveness and who loved Santa’s visits on Christmas morning as much as the rest of us, had suddenly gone to the dark side of holiday festiveness.
They boisterously condemned me and my sisters for “lying” to our kids about imaginary characters who bring presents and spread joy. They accused us of diluting the true meaning of Easter with commercialism. They admit to telling their toddlers that Daddy brought all the Christmas presents, not Santa.
Their overly dramatic texted tirades would have sent Grandma and Grandpa spinning in their graves.
Growing up, we were lucky enough to live 20 minutes from one set of grandparents who spent their retirement gardening, watching game shows and preparing for the next big holiday for their grandkids. Grandma crocheted and cross-stitched with yarn all kinds of crafty surprises.
Every Easter morning, we woke to find that the Easter bunny delivered huge chocolate eggs with our names squirted in icing on the sides. Then after church, we drove to our grandparents' home for a ham dinner and another set of baskets with goodies and hard-boiled eggs scattered all over the lush backyard. The Easter bunny was given all the credit.
We spent hours tiptoeing through the tulips to find eggs. We reached far into the barely budding lilac bushes and behind ceramic gnomes to discover hidden eggs. We climbed through prickly blackberry and rosebushes where the only springtime treasures were more eggs. I loved my Grandpa’s gnarly peach tree where past pruning on horizontal branches left perfect cradles for colored eggs.
Looking back, those springtime memories enhance my spiritual faith in the blessings of Easter. I appreciate the miracle of Jesus Christ’s resurrection even more because I also long to again see my beloved grandparents who have all passed on. Hope that there is life after this life makes every day worth living a little better.
It motivates young moms to create complicated Halloween costumes, to try new recipes for Thanksgiving, to save and scrimp for perfect Christmas gifts, to dip chocolate hearts for Valentines, to let mischief infiltrate routines on St. Patrick’s Day and to fill baskets with springtime surprises before Easter’s sunrise.
It gives grandparents monthly opportunities to show they care and bond with grandchildren through simple cards in the mail or Sunday dinners or festive parties.
Celebrating small things bonds families in such a way that important teaching opportunities become easier. If we gather for dinner at Thanksgiving, we’re more likely to hear the gratitude of each person in our family. If one day a year, young kids can blame leprechauns for overturned chairs and kitchen messes, then they might be more accountable when they make their own mistakes. And if Easter bunnies leave secret surprises, then kids might follow with secret service of their own.
Lucky for my nieces and nephews, they have thoughtful moms who redeemed my grumpy brothers by sending text messages about their plans to make shamrock sugar cookies and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in their own unique way.
And I’ll agree with them on one point, Santa and the Easter bunny should not replace our focus on Jesus Christ and the significant moments of his earthly ministry. With balance, it’s the perfect time to pass around chocolate eggs and make family memories your kids will never forget.