Friday, April 17, 2009

Palm branches and empty tombs

We celebrated the religious side of Easter a bit differently this year--we actually celebrated it. The week before I was grumbling about how our Easter Sunday services would be pretty dull compared to the high churches with their cathedrals of stained glass, booming organ oratorios, flowers, and candles. Compared to Christmas, a holiday marked with eight large boxes of decorations and at least 24 days of special activities, foods, and music, Easter seemed a poor country cousin, at least in our house. Somehow the idea evolved that I could make this year different and the Crocketts would commemorate the last week of Christ's life with a bit more pomp and ceremony.

We began on Palm Sunday, and using a large pad of easel paper, every day we drew pictures to illustrate what happened on that day of Holy Week. Carden and Seth really got into this, embellishing and adding to my pathetic stick figures with their own drawings, coloring, labels "Pilate = bad guy," and discussions between themselves "Seth, don't draw a smile! Jesus was SAD that day!" "Carden, that's Judas, he's not supposed to be happy." "He's not. See, I drew mean eyebrows." More amazing was how interested I got into researching what happened so that I could be prepared for the next day's drawing. Tyler teased me that I walked around the house reading Jesus the Christ like it was Harry Potter.
By Wednesday I'd found a Mormon Tabernacle CD full of Easter music: the cathedral-and-stained-glass-type I'd been craving. Pieces from the Beethoven oratorio, Dvorak, Gounod, John Rutter--all wonderful stuff made for a great iPod Easter playlist. Nowhere near my 32 hours of Christmas music, but a good start, and it filled the house with the feeling of Easter.

Thursday I thought about serving a Passover dinner, but figured the kids were not quite old enough to make it worth the work. But we did serve bread and grape juice and talked about the change from the Passover to the Sacrament, before diving into our decidedly nontraditional plates of spaghetti.
For Good Friday I made Hot Cross Buns, which didn't turn out quite so pretty as I'd hoped, but tasted good and will hopefully work better next year. Because the Gospel writers offer enough detail of what happened when during that Friday, I spent the day much more aware of the time and what was happening so many years ago in Jerusalem (7am: probably dragged between Pilate and Herod; 8am: the scourging?; 10am: the cross; sunset: hastily placing the body in the tomb).

Saturday was gloomy weather, appropriate for the day I spent thinking of the Disciples marking the Jewish Sabbath, ruminating on the previous day's event. As part of a church lesson on Easter that I had to teach, I put together a DVD slideshow of works of art depicting scenes from the last week of Christ's life. I really had a great time combing the Internet for material. And our computer even cooperated (mostly) and Tyler burned the disc without incident! True miracle.

Easter Sunday was a beautiful spring day, wonderfully perfect after the gloom inside my soul the preceeding two days. We ran out of time on Sunday, but later that week we made Resurrection Rolls (slightly goofy concept but a big hit with the kids).

By the time I packed up the box of Easter decorations, I felt like we had really celebrated Easter for what it is--a hard week of watching someone prepare for his death, paying closer attention to his last words and teachings, and appreciating the glory of Resurrection morning because we'd seen the price it took to get there. Next year I think we'll add some more activities I found online and continue to make Easter a wonderful--and major--holiday for our family.

Jelly beans and chocolate bunnies

We stretched out our Easter festivities this year, starting with a cousin egg hunt in the backyard the weekend before when my parents were in town. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperative at all, and we squeezed in the egg finding between snow flurries. Nothing like trying to pick up slippery plastic eggs while wearing gloves.

The Easter bunny brought his usual baskets full of treats, which were eaten before/instead of breakfast. We tried unsuccessfully to pry the chocolate bunny out of Charlotte's hands and replace it with a piece of toast, but she wasn't going for that. Charlotte is not much for jelly beans, but she can smell chocolate at 50 paces.

Our indoor jelly bean hunt was another favorite activity. All the ones I hid above kid-eye-level are still there, providing me, at least, with an additional stash of jelly beans now that the kids have gobbled all the rest.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Grandparents day at school

Carden lucked out that for the weekend of the school Grandparents Day, both sets of his California grandparents were in town. Grandma and Grandpa Halverson won (or lost?) the prize of actually going to school and fighting the crowds for two hours.

They played bingo, checkers, and math games, globbed their hands with paint for handprints, frosted cookies, interviewed each other, and toured the school. Carden said it was "the best day of my life!" Afterwards they snuck him off-campus for lunch at his favorite restaurant, Applebees, to feast on corndogs, fries, and miniature Oreo sundaes.

Since both sides of our family come with large numbers of aunts, uncles, and cousins, we're used to sharing grandparents among all the families. And within the family, we're used to sharing grandparents with siblings and parents. That probably contributed to Carden's enthusiasm to have some of his favorite people all to himself. It reminded me of the few times that I got to be alone with my grandparents and how special that was. I'm sure the opportunities were infrequent, again because of the numbers they had to divide themselves among, and yet they are vivid memoriesto me. Thanks to our great grandparents (and Great-Grandparents even!) for making Carden's day such a fun one.

Thursday, April 2, 2009