I sit in my kitchen early in the morning drinking coffee before anyone else in the household wakes up. It has always been my style. It has always been my favorite part of the day. The house is quiet. It is the calm before the storm. Raising three active boys, I knew it was only a matter of time before the storm came. Each day. And it usually did. Not in a bad way. But, in an active, chaotic way. I loved every part of it. Bring it on!
Today, tho the habit is deeply rooted and I still wake up early, the chaos is mostly gone. My children have grown. One married. One graduated from college and working. One living away from home at college. It’s mostly just Bruce and I these days. I think back on Easters past and how exciting this holiday used to be for our family.
Stay up late to fill Easter baskets. Hide them in the house. Get up early in the morning to three little boys racing from room to room trying to find their loot.
Then church. It was always a battle to try to calm everyone down. The prior weeks leading up to the big day, I would go out and shop for new outfits for each of them. When they were young, the outfits were always coordinating. They usually included suspenders and knee socks. Something they cringe at now. As they got older, they each developed their own sense of style. I still felt the maternal need to get them new duds for the holiday. So, I did.
Half the time on the way to church, a brawl would break out for some reason or another. There they would be in their new clothes, sitting strategically in our mini van to ensure the least damage to their appearance by the time we made our 10 minute drive to our destination. They knew how to push each others buttons. Inevitably, the buttons would be pushed. I would get stressed out. Clark would threaten to pull the car over.
We always made it to church in one piece. We would plant forced smiles on our faces so that nobody would know that 5 minutes earlier world war III was breaking out in our car. It was not until years later that I found out that most of our friends had that very similar experience on their ride to church. It was not unique to us. It was normal. It was the American way!
After church, the boys would find their friends in the church gym while the adults would gather and have coffee and talk for a little while. I loved this part of church. I still do. Time to catch up with everyone. This group of people end up being your church family. In a way, every Sunday after church felt like a mini family holiday or gathering. You are not born into each others lives. You find each other. Bonds form. A family by choice.
I was raised catholic. Irish catholic. That is a strong combo. Irish blood runs deep and loyal. Both of my parents worked at Notre Dame and because of this, we had the special perk of being able to attend Notre Dame at a deeply discounted price. You paid for room and board. The education was free. My friends think that for this reason, it was ironic that I ended up at a small, private, expensive protestant college.
I frequently tell my friends that I know it was not ironic, but rather, Divine Intervention. God knew exactly what he was doing when he plucked me out of my environment and plopped me down in the middle of Hope College. There, I met Bruce who I ended up marrying. There I found my true faith. A deep faith by today’s standards. Maybe it was the freedom that you experience while in College or maybe it was my age, but it was then that I realized that faith is a choice. You choose to be a believer or not. You realize that in the end, we are all worshiping the same God. We are just going down different roads and paths in our journeys.
Many Easter’s later, as a mom of three boys ~~ and now a beautiful daughter in law ~~ I think back fondly of all of those Easter mornings. The wild beginning, the chaos of trying to calm everyone to get ready for church, coming home to our big feast. I Love family holidays. I love being all together. It is my favorite thing in the world. We sit down for meals, sometimes for hours. I Look around my table and know how truly blessed I am. I have a beautiful, healthy family. My boys are the best of friends. They all love Bruce’s wife, Lauren. She fits in perfectly. They look up to their father with such respect and love. Today they might even admit that, yes, he did know what he was talking about most of the time when lecturing and giving advice.
So, however you choose to spend your day tomorrow, whether you choose to celebrate privately, with a family of choice or the family you were born into, on this day before Easter, may you all feel the special blessing that family brings to your life and of Easters past and present. And may you feel the deep meaning of the sacrifice given up for you through the cross. Happy Easter!!