My Mom and I like to write down the things that were successful about our holidays and the things we would change while it is fresh on our minds; otherwise, we end up forgetting that nobody ate the Thanksgiving cranberry salad or that Easter egg hunts are always muddy.
This year, since I have decided to make public my personal diary, why not share my lists, as well? (You can thank me or send your donations at your leisure…). The following are Mrs. Gore’s tips for a Happy Easter, as of 2011:
~ Tip the First ~
Easter egg hunts are always muddy. Or windy. Or raining. (at least that’s the way it goes in Oklahoma). So even more important than fancy Easter shoes to wear to church, make sure your child has a suitable pair of rainboots. Tis imperative.
~ Tip the Second ~
When dying Easter eggs, it is recommended to cover your child with an apron. But Mrs. Gore doesn’t want to stain-treat an apron any more than she wants to stain-treat the clothes the apron is protecting. So unless you have an oilcloth apron for each child, just strip them down to their underpants and let them dye away. It may not make for the most festive Easter pictures, but I suppose we’ll all survive.
~ Tip the Third ~
If you are like me and are trying to break old habits of consumerism and cluttering up your house, avoid purchasing a new swath of junky toys and stuffed animals every year to fill up your Easter baskets. This tip can only be done for so long before your children grow old enough to catch on, but my son has received some of the same toys for the last four Easters and he has no idea. I just let him play with them for a few days and then I put them in Easter storage until the next year. This frees me up to purchase something substantial for the children’s baskets, like a Beatrix Potter DVD or a new hardcover book. By saving on the “filler” in our baskets, we’ve built up an Easter library! Our favorites are: The Truth about Easter Rabbits, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, The Golden Egg Book, Jeremy: the Tale of the Honest Bunny, and Tasha Tudor’s A Tale for Easter. Who knew the Easter Bunny was so thrifty (or so literary)?
~ Tip the Fourth ~
Can I just take a moment to say that the following idea is the most genius one I’ve ever had? And I’m not the only one to have it, either – I found that several of my buddies were doing the same thing this year. Entertain the notion of having the Easter Bunny visit your home on Friday night instead of Saturday night. I sent him his revised invitation last year after realizing that every Easter Sunday morning, we were waking the children up early against our better judgment (sleepy children do not easily make it through 3 hours of Sunday School and worship), then zipping through an early morning egg hunt, snapping pictures like the crazed Paparazzi, shoving breakfast down our throats and frantically getting dressed for church on what should be the most thoughtful Christian holiday of the year. (Consequently, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus in the days to come…). It was just absolutely crazy. This year, we woke up on Saturday at our leisure, the children were able to comb through their baskets, eat as much candy as they wanted, hunt the eggs the Easter Bunny hid in the living room and office, and play with their new toys for a couple of hours before we were off to Grandmother’s house for further celebration. It…was…heavenly. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Easter Bunny for being flexible enough to fit into our new Saturday schedule.
~ Tip the Fifth ~
My second most genius idea ever, not to be confused with ‘Tip the Fourth’. If you are like us with young children in tow, you know that a large Easter Sunday lunch and family-wide egg hunt falls right smack in the middle of their sleepiest and grouchiest time of day (and ours, as well…what is it about Sunday afternoons??). Thus, following our Saturday morning Easter Bunny visit, we (along with my brother and his family) met at Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house for an Easter brunch, something we have never done before. The children were all raring to go, the day was young and fresh, and we had the absolute best time. After eating the most delicious ham ever with homemade biscuits and scrambled eggs, followed by our family favorite of strawberries, cream and pie crust, Granddaddy came inside and announced that he had a sneaking suspicion that the Easter Bunny had been in the woods. He loaded all 5 grandchildren into his electric gator and took them into the woods where a hundred eggs were waiting to be found. (Yes, it was muddy, but on 5 pairs of feet were 5 suitable pairs of rainboots…). Personally, I’ve never had so much fun at an egg hunt. Because, again, we had the time to enjoy it, and the children were not sleep-walking like they were last year. Doing the majority of our family-wide Easter festivities on Saturday morning freed us up to relax on Sunday afternoon, to allow the children to sleep if they were sleepy, and to focus more on “real” Easter than on Happy Fake Easter.
~ Tip the Sixth ~
We’re new at this one, but after our first experience, I am a huge fan…you really should think about surprising the children with a REAL version of all those stuffed animals they receive every year. In our case, it was the cutest white furry rabbit. My brother and his wife bought their girls three little ducks, and unveiling these delightful new pets after the egg hunt was definitely the highlight of our Happy Fake Easter. Sure, we all had mini heart attacks each time a pair of those rain boots came close to squashing the life out of the poor little animals, but the shrieks and giggles that filled the air as five children chased after their new furry friends and then the sweet cuddling they shared once they caught them was just so lovely and timeless. Peter, Puddle, Ducky and Banner definitely captured the children’s hearts more than any of the toys or books that filled their Easter baskets, and you’ll be happy to know, they are all four of them still alive. Which is an Easter miracle, believe me.
~ Tip the Seventh ~
Accept messiness and imperfections. Growing up, my Mom always made this giant Easter bunny cake. It was perfect, and appeared out of nowhere every year to delight us with its beauty and to eat with relish. Not hot dog relish…you know, relish, the synonym for “delight” (you really should buy a thesaurus). How becoming a Grandmother transforms a lady. This year, my Mom had the cake ready to go on Saturday after the egg hunt, but…it was stark naked. She then produced three bowls of icing and three little butter knives and let the oldest grandchildren do the decorating. It was a sloppy affair, icing licked off the knife between spreadings, big globs of moist chocolate cake crumbled and spread all over the usually pristine white bunny, but I can promise you, that cake was enjoyed this year more than it ever was before. Because none of the adults (except for Small Elephant, of course) cared to ingest all of the germs that decorated the top of Mr. Easter Bunny Cake, Grandmother then pulled out three (or four) forks and let the kids (and me) eat their creation right there on the spot. What fun!
Likewise, I’ve learned to tone it down a bit with the Easter clothes…when Gid the Kid first arrived on the scene, I nearly wrapped him in saran wrap for the drive to church lest he get one tiny spot on his Easter finery. This year, on the way to church, Gideon (from who knows where) whipped out a golden Mardi Gras-esque strand of beads for Rebekah to wear with her sailor-inspired ensemble. I almost made her hand it over before we unloaded from the van, but what’s more important? Rebekah looking picture perfect, or proudly wearing the necklace her brother lovingly gave her? I think we all know the answer to that question…
~ Tip the Eighth ~
After Happy Fake Easter came to a close, it became time to prepare for the Sabbath. Mr. Gore shared in his sermon on Sunday morning, “If we don’t celebrate Easter on Monday or Tuesday or in the middle of July, we aren’t really celebrating Easter today.” And so I don’t want it to seem as though the next tip is only for the night before Easter; however, the night before Easter is special…and so after the children were bathed and getting awfully close to their bedtime, we all gathered on Mama and Papa’s bed to read the story of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Then we taught them the great old hymn “Up from the Grave He Arose.” (Or as Gideon calls it “He Aroyse from the Gravy”). It was a simple time, and it didn’t take very long, but it was a much-needed transition from the day’s activities to what awaited us the next morning. For the first time ever I went to bed on Easter Eve thinking about eternal things rather than Easter baskets and eggs and candy and dresses.
~ Tip the Ninth ~
You’ve only heard me say it a thousand times in the past four months, but our Saturday nights are always spent in preparation for church the next morning. This is especially imperative on Easter Eve. No matter how tired you are from celebrating all day, go ahead and iron the clothes, lay them out with all their accessories, pack the diaper bag, and tidy up the house. I have even started laying out all the items I might need to make breakfast, in this case, the muffin tin, the Pam, the muffin mix, the measuring cup, the oil, the mixing bowl, the can opener, the blueberry strainer, and a good spoon for stirring (even with Momensia, I refrained from laying out the milk and eggs just yet…). It is so important to absolve chaos on Sunday morning whether you are married to a pastor or live very much alone; it is more than worth it to persevere on Saturday night when it results in a peaceful and orderly Sunday morning.
~ Tip the Tenth ~
Go to church! And not just on Easter…haven’t you seen the greeting card where the priest is in the pulpit saying “Merry Christmas! Where the %&@# have you all been since Easter?!”
~ Tip the Eleventh ~
As with any holiday, be flexible. So what if you have to take your one-and-a-half year old to choir practice with you at 9:00 so your husband can check the baptistry? So what if you’re the pastor turning on the heater to warm the baptistry and it turns the water brown? And so what if you drain the brown water and refill the baptistry with a long water hose attached from the kitchen but the hose gets a kink in it and the pressure blows the faucet off of the sink and water starts spraying all over the ceiling? So what if your son announces to his Sunday School class that he wants to be the Roman soldier who “stared mean” at Jesus (in The Big Picture Story Bible) for Halloween? And so what if he then makes the girls in his class cry by pressuring them to be Roman soldiers, as well? And…so what if he lays on the speaker while in front of the entire church while the rest of the children listen to the Bible story their pastor is reading to them on the steps of the stage? So what if it rains SO hard and so long that two local highways are closed and 5 children and 10 adults are stuck in a tiny little living room? So what if the grill won’t work in the garage and you have to eat salads and chips and cheese dip for lunch? So what if the electricity then goes off and you’re all huddled in that same living room (now dark) staring at each other? And finally, so what if you end your momentous holiday at home alone with your little family, eating frozen eggrolls and a bag of fried rice? (YES, all of this happened on THIS Easter!). It’s still Easter. Jesus is alive! And because you’re a genius, you did enough celebrating on Saturday to last you until next year…
~ Tip the Twelfth ~
Take advantage of having really young children in your home by helping yourself to their Easter candy while they are taking their afternoon nap. It is your privilege and your right for carrying them in your stomach for nine months and then suffering through church services and restaurant outings with them by your side for the next four years.
And if those aren’t enough tips to get you started on having a Happy Easter, then I’ll eat my Easter bonnet. Right after I finish all of Rebekah’s Reese’s cups.
Happy Easter from Mr. and Mrs. Gore, Gideon and Rebekah!