Whenever I think of Easter, many cherished — albeit humorous — memories from long ago come flooding into consciousness.
As a child, my family had as many Easter traditions as the Easter Bunny has brothers and
It all would start, though, with the annual trip to the department store to get outfitted with a new suit, complete with — at least in my case — a fancy, oversized bow tie that would at least run parallel with my unusually large ears. Somehow, my father and brother escaped the embarrassment of wearing a clown-sized tie, instead getting a much more sleek and fashionable necktie — even if it was a clip-on.
Believe it or not, I still have all my Easter bow ties and, looking at them today, they seem even larger than they did 30 years ago. If only Groucho Marx was still alive, I know he could get some use out of them.
Come Easter Sunday, we’d all roll out of bed early, get polished up in our new clothes and take in the early church service. Following that, the majority of the family would migrate to my grandfather and grandmother’s to visit. The adults all would stay inside chatting away, while the kids would rush to the backyard to play.
Eventually, all the kids would end up next door at my great-grandmother’s house to beg for treats. The best we usually got was some old stale candy corn — yes, in March or April — and some chalky, pink wintergreen lozenges. It sounds pretty bad — and was — but it was candy nonetheless, even if it was old lady candy.
After our visit was over, we’d go back home where Mom would put together an amazing Easter supper and even more family gathered for fellowship and festivities.
The highlight before the meal was the annual Burdette Easter egg hunt. My mother and father would strategically hide dozens of eggs throughout the house and all over the yard. For each egg we found, we’d get a nickel, in the early years, and later on a quarter.
We always had a fantastic time tearing through the house and yard, scavenging for the eggs we had all colored the night before.
The only problem was, Mom never counted exactly how many eggs she concealed. It never failed that sometime later that spring or summer, my brother or I would find a rogue egg hidden in a pair of seldom-worn shoes. Or, my dad would find a stray at the bottom of his sock drawer or in his leisure suit jacket pocket.
Perhaps my fondest Easter memories come from later in life, after my father had passed and when my mother’s health began to fail. I still vividly remember her last Easter and the joyous, yet difficult, time my brother and I got to share with her and her youngest sister during a day-trip away from the nursing home. Little did we know at the time, within a few short months, both of them would be gone from this earth. It is this time, though, that I often recall, not just because it was her last Easter, but because — even near the end — she lived with great dignity, zeal, faith and humility.
All the typical holiday trappings and stories aside, we — as a family — always took pause on Easter to observe its true meaning.
We always would set aside time to remember and share the story of Jesus’ sacrifices on Good Friday and the story of his resurrection and ascension into heaven.
We all would use the Easter holiday to count our blessings and to remember that no matter what trivial challenges the previous year had thrown our way, the crosses we had to bear were nothing in comparison to that of our Savior.
It is during this time of year — a time for forgiveness and good will — that I remember how truly blessed I am.