Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter Joy

I will never forget my first Easter in Texas. We had been here about six months and decided to take advantage of the long weekend and check out South Padre Island. We were living on my unimpressive secretarial salary so we couldn’t actually stay on the island, but instead opted for a cheap hotel in Brownsville. We did get to attend a bright and sunny sunrise service on the beach, but once that was over we just kind of wandered around, looking for an open restaurant and staring in wonder at what we saw.  Down in the Rio Grande Valley it’s nearly always possible to gather outdoors, and people do. The Brownsville parks were filled with families cooking barbecue. PiƱatas were hanging from trees, cousins were chasing each other, screaming with delight and (it appeared to me from the car windows) smacking each other on the head. It was festive in a way I had never seen.

Growing up in the Midwest I had certainly celebrated Easter with great joy. Trumpets heralded the empty tomb, light drenched the sanctuary that had been solemn and clothed in black and purple on Friday. The very contrast made it significant. What was different about this Texas celebration was the pure fun that accompanied it. And, as always, I was attracted to the fun.

What makes Easter significant to kids is the exuberance that underlies the celebration. Even children old enough to understand death and resurrection really don’t completely understand its significance – but they sense it. They may not have experienced great grief or joy yet, but they recognize that something amazing is happening. They don’t really "get" that eggs are a symbol of new life, but they love searching for them anyway. Down the road the significance of the symbols and ceremonies will dawn and they will feel the joy well within. So give them lots of traditions to reflect on later!

Two quick ideas for adding Easter symbols and fun to your family Easter basket:

Cascarones – pictured to the right, are eggshells that have been washed, dyed, dried, filled with confetti and closed with a circle of tissue paper. They are made for breaking open on someone’s head – that’s what the children of Brownsville were doing when I thought they were smacking each other. What a powerful symbol – new life, empty tomb, alleluia, all wrapped up in one little package!

Resurrection Rolls – You’ll need refrigerated crescent rolls, large marshmallows, cinnamon, sugar, and butter.
  • Mix 1/4 tsp. cinnamon with 1/4 C. sugar in a small bowl.
  • Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in another small bowl.
  • Lay out one triangle of dough. (This is the "tomb".) Roll the marshmallow ("Jesus") in the butter, and then in the cinnamon-sugar mix.
  • Next, roll up your marshmallow in the dough. (Jesus is in the tomb.) Make sure to pinch the sides and corners fully closed.
  • Roll your filled dough in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and bake according to package directions.
After they have cooled, enjoy your Resurrection Rolls. Surprise! The tomb will be empty!

Blessed Easter!

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