I was raised in a family that didn’t have a lot of extra money. We weren’t poor, but we did have to manage our money carefully. Our version of going on vacation was piling into our car and driving across country to visit relatives. We got one new pair of school shoes and tennis shoes each September, which were expected to last for the entire school year, and most of my clothes had first been worn by my older sister.
That’s probably why I have such fond memories of our annual shopping trips to buy our special Easter outfits. I didn’t just get a fancy new dress–I got new shoes, special socks, a hat and sometimes even a little purse. The shoes were always white patent-leather, which only looked good until the first scuff mark appeared, and that was usually about five minutes after I put them on. But I didn’t care, because I thought I looked great. As far as I was concerned, wearing my new Easter outfit to church was the second best part of Easter. The best part, of course, was receiving my very own Easter basket full of candy and knowing I didn’t have to share any of it.
Now I’m all grown up, and honestly can’t remember the last time I looked in the mirror and truly thought I looked great. I also haven’t bought a special Easter outfit in years, either for myself or for my own children. I still have my old Easter basket, but it’s tucked away in a storage bin with my other memorabilia. The purple wicker has faded to the palest of lilacs, and a really heavy chocolate Easter bunny would probably break it in two.
But that’s okay, because I enjoy Easter now just as much as I ever did. It doesn’t matter that I won’t wear a brand-new outfit to church, or that I’m the one who has to clean the house and fix the food for our immediate family’s Easter lunch. I’ll gladly hide the eggs for my grandchildren to find and spend a couple of hours making my mother’s home-made potato salad. (It’s labor-intensive, but the results are worth it.)
One thing I’ve learned about the holidays I’ve celebrated all my life is that the way I celebrate may change, but the important thing is that I still celebrate. Participating in meaningful rituals and traditions, gathering with the people I love, and in general, just being grateful for actually experiencing another new holiday is what really matters. And why we never really outgrow the holidays we love.