Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day: And Now for Something, A Little Different

Remember when it was Easter?*

I did, this year. Which is saying something because I usually forget until I walk into church and the organist is playing "He Is Ris'n" for the opening hymn.

I am deeply religious, but Easter has always seemed like the forgotten holiday. A Christmas afterthought. But, considering my beliefs, Easter is a big deal. Christmas doesn't mean much without an Easter to follow.

So this year we decided to really celebrate, in the hopes that we'd really remember. As we considered our celebratory plans, I found it somewhat exciting to start from a blank slate. No expectations, no traditions, and - compared to Christmas - not even a lot of input from millions of marketing dollars.

Our number one priority was to keep things simple. After all, we were starting from zero festivities. We couldn't institute a thousand new traditions in one year. Plus, we didn't want to end up doing so much to remember the occasion that we forgot to actually remember the occasion. In the end, we decided on the following format. We started on the Sunday before Easter. Each night, we would do one activity, one spiritual thought and one hymn. They would relate to something from that day in Christ's last week.

My sister got me the book "A Christ-Centered Easter" which is full of ideas and follows our chosen format pretty closely. It was a useful resource to have. It had a good balance of giving specific ideas and scaffolding without being overly prescriptive or structured. It also had some great recipes for a Jerusalem style foods.

I already threw away our outline of events that Abe and I made during a family council a week before the festivities started**, but here's what I can re-create from memory. I've also included comparison notes on what actually happened.

Spiritual thought: Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem
Activity: Nature walk
Hymn: Joy to the World
Actual: It was 40 degrees and rainy so we put 2 plants in the middle of the living room floor and marched Genghis around them (read: tried to keep him from eating them).

Spiritual thought: Christ cleanses the temple.
Activity: Blitz clean the house - under 15 minutes.
Hymn: We Love Thy House, O Lord.
Actual: We cleaned with Genghis in tow for about 10 minutes and got a surprising amount done.

Spiritual thought: Christ teaches parables
Activity: Share a favorite parable
Hymn: (don't remember)
Actual: I shared the parable of the widow's mite.

Spiritual thought: Nothing is recorded specifically about what Christ did this day.
Activity: Take a treat to someone.
Hymn: (don't remember)
Actual: We made Red Velvet Cake and decorated as my family's traditional Easter Bunny Cake. We took cupcakes to a few friends nearby.

Spiritual thought: The last supper.
Activity: Jerusalem-style dinner, loosely similar to what would have been eaten in Christ's time.
Hymn: As Now We Take the Sacrament
Actual: We had invited friends over for dinner on Friday night. If you skip ahead you'll see that Friday was planned to be our Night of Darkness, when we wouldn't use electric lights. That seemed like it may be a little odd with guests, so we did the Jerusalem dinner on Friday instead. Thursday was a very hectic night for us so we actually didn't do anything.

Spiritual thought: The crucifixion.
Activity: An evening of darkness - using only candles for light.
Hymn: Oh Savior Thou That Wearest A Crown.
Actual: We had our Jerusalem dinner, shared with friends. Lamb and barley, unleavened bread, bulgur & onion pilaf, tomato cucumber salad with lemon tahini dressing. We also talked about the Passover and had a few of the symbolic foods - unleavened bread, lamb, bitter herbs, grape juice.

Spiritual thought: Christ teaches in the spirit world.
Activity: Play a game.
Hymn: Come Follow Me
Actual: We had planned on moving the Night of Darkness to Saturday night, but when the time came we realized that Genghis would be sound asleep by the time it would be dark enough to get the effect. So we played a game instead.

Spiritual thought: Resurrection
Activity: Celebratory breakfast
Hymn: Christ The Lord is Risen Today
Actual: Abe made a delicious omelet breakfast. Genghis liked the mushrooms most of all.

My favorite times during our celebrations were Monday night, Thursday during the day, and Friday night. Monday was our blitz cleaning, related to Christ cleansing the temple. When we were done cleaning and sat down to enjoy the rest of the evening, there was a wonderful feeling of peace and joy in our home.

Thursday, although we didn't end up doing an activity that evening, I couldn't help but feel reflective, and a little heavy-hearted, all day. I kept thinking about how the Savior must have felt on his Thursday, knowing the events of that evening and the next day were so close at hand. It was during this time that I felt I truly remembered and celebrated Easter - perhaps for the first time in my life.

Friday, it was just really fun to try the Jerusalem dinner, to share it with friends, and to reflect on some of the symbolism of the meal. Also, Genghis loves bulgur. Who knew?

Well, that's more religion than I usually put on this forum. But Easter, as I've been learning, is really a special occasion. Thanks for indulging me.

*I know, I'm way behind. I usually don't blog about holidays. I have nothing to say about Mother's Day. But I do have something to say about Easter, so here goes.

**We actually sat down and had a family council, complete with butcher paper and markers for planning. It was pretty fun. I felt like a real grown up. We had another one this week to coordinate upcoming crazy travel schedules. I preferred to call that a "Council of War" in tribute to Amelia Peabody, a favorite detective series of mine.


Jen said...

Erin, I love you!
...and Happy Mother's Day!

Dawn said...

That sounds like a really special week. Thanks for going outside your comfort zone to share it with us.