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Building A Better Easter

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Building A Better Easter

Last year, in true Uncool Mom fashion—me always trying to re-engineer things and make them better—I once again set my sights on Easter.

I’ve always thought that Easter, the foundational holiday of Christianity, should be a much bigger deal than it is, and have always wondered why Christians don’t make as much fuss over it as Christmas. I mean, at least in my family, people don’t bend over backwards at Easter to try to be together by plane, train or automobile. Each individual family usually just “does their own thing” and that “thing” usually means new spring dresses for the females; Easter baskets hidden for the kids on Easter morning, filled with a few presents and candy; going to church; participating in an egg hunt or two (egg hunts that often are a week before Easter); and maybe going out to eat.

As kids grow older, the “Easter Bunny” and Easter baskets go away and the excitement over egg hunts diminishes as well, so eventually we’re down to going to church and going out to eat. Ho-hum.

Some would say great, that keeps the focus where it needs to be—church, but I say that Easter is a celebration that should go on all day, not just for an hour at a morning church service.

This isn’t the first year I’ve pondered this. When we were just starting our family, I tried thinking of Easter traditions we might start, to commemorate new life. Why not take the kids to a farm every Easter afternoon? So when Allison was around two or three, we did just that. The City of Dallas’ Samuell Farm had animals, even Easter hayrides. It was perfect. But then we had a second child and got busier, and by the time we decided to visit the farm again, it had closed.

A couple times, I decided we would host a big Easter dinner at our house, with an egg hunt in the backyard. (One of our wedding gifts was a giant funky salad bowl held up by four silver rabbits doing handstands, so I figured, I was destined to host a meal on Easter!) To these dinners, which would have rivaled anything found in Martha Stewart Living, we invited a bunch from Andy’s side of the family, including all his stepbrothers and their wives. But in subsequent years, people were on vacation, and/or busy with their own new families, or they’d moved away, so that tradition never quite took hold.

Last year, the wheels in my brain got turning again, and Andy and I decided that after the morning church service, we’d take a long family bike ride, i.e. about 17 miles, ending in a park near where several of his family members live, and invite them to join us for a big picnic. While plans changed a bit (we cut our route down to 13 miles; Allison got sick and stayed home; the relatives opted out of the picnic and chose to host us for supper instead), the bike ride was great, and it was a real eye-opener.

For as Andy, Emmie, and I rode all around Dallas’ White Rock Lake, we got to see how many members of our area Hispanic population celebrate Easter—in a big way, with lots of family and friends. Along every mile of White Rock Lake Park, there are at least 20-25 picnic areas, and every single one was taken by a Hispanic family celebrating Easter. (Think about it—that’s a lot of picnic tables and a lot of celebration.)

Most had brought their own BBQ grill or smoker and the air was fragrant with the smells of roasted meat. Their children, no doubt brothers and sisters and cousins and friends, dressed in beautiful Sunday clothes, were hunting for eggs hidden in thick clover. Music was everywhere. Cumbia tunes boomed out from portable stereos and some families, even small ones, had hired mariachi bands to entertain. At or near every table, people were laughing, talking, eating, smiling, flying kites, throwing Frisbees, playing soccer, dancing…

Anglos on bikes (like us) wearing Spandex (not like us—we were the dorks in jeans and shorts) quietly wove in and out of these celebrations. It was so fun to observe but at the same time, it almost made me cry, thinking about how our own celebrations pale in comparison… and that even if our own picnic had materialized, we wouldn’t have been able to find an empty table anywhere in that park.

So what’s a WASP family to do? I vowed to keep working on it.

Meanwhile, as nine of us joined hands later than evening at my sister-in-law’s to pray before chowing down on Uncle Dan’s gourmet meal, I realized we are on the right track.

Patricia Long Allbee, a longtime freelance writer, created her blog Uncool Mom, in late 2008 and ever since has written regularly about the ups and downs of life with older kids and teens. She lives in the Dallas area with husband Andy and teen daughters Emmie and Allison.

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