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Life with Liz: New Easter traditions

Published April 20. 2019 06:08AM

It’s Easter weekend and as usual, I am scrambling because I haven’t gotten anything prepared. Easter is probably our #2 holiday, after Christmas, so it’s kind of a big deal that I don’t have it together. It has been years since I’ve decorated the house with anything other than crafts that the kids have made.

Since the rule of decorations is what goes up must eventually come down, and by March or April, I’m still finding random Christmas items that I missed taking down, I really can’t get too excited about hauling out another round of tchotchkes that will need dusting.

The kids have traditionally participated in some random craft event that has generated three matching spring or Easter items that can be displayed on the mantel and bring just enough festivity to the house for me. One year, they “paint and snacked” some cute bunny silhouettes. Another year, they painted rabbits on pallet boards. And, yet another year, they made fluffy yellow chicks out of wineglasses. Pinterest has been good to my kids.

This year, G took the initiative to start tracking those items down and has been randomly placing them around the house. I hope he’s just as motivated to pack them up next week.

Over the years, we’ve done a few Easter egg hunts; however, more and more of these events were getting ugly as parents became way too involved, and instead of allowing kids to poke around through the grass, it became an all-out fight to the death over plastic eggs.

The past few years, my kids have been content to hide the eggs they’ve colored all over the house, over and over again. However, when E excitedly reminded me that I needed to pick up egg coloring supplies, I got a little bit of an eyeroll and an “are we still doing that?” groan from A. I was quick to inform him that yes, we most certainly would be coloring eggs on Good Friday, as is our tradition.

I was also late to getting my traditional color coordinated outfits for the family. Easter is always such a tricky holiday to dress for, as when it’s in March, my kids run around freezing in their shorts and sleeveless dress, and when it’s in April, my kids are sweating in the heavy cardigans and long-sleeved shirts I thought would bridge the weather trials.

I’ve also been burned before when E gets a dress in February, and two months later, decides to either grow or completely change her style.

This year, her decision was limited by the spring sandals that are still fitting her from last year. Her dress had to be something that would match strappy gold or white patent leather. So trying to find a dress that matched her shoes, and then shirts and bottoms for the boys that matched her dress, was a little bit of a challenge that wasn’t helped by my procrastination.

If all else fails, we always have white polos and khakis to recycle from their school uniforms.

One tradition that I’m secretly not missing is getting our baskets blessed. Typically, an event that took place during Holy Week, this required a lot of planning and preparation on my part, not a quick trip to the grocery store on Saturday night to grab a few items to put out a quick cold spread.

Since Christmas is our holiday to hunker down and enjoy the day at home in our jammies, Easter is our holiday to make the rounds. Since we have to be out the door and at church early, it follows that we take care of our family visits after that, while everyone is still looking prim and proper and Eastery.

It also helps that my kids don’t get the massive influx of new stuff that they do at Christmas. No one is terribly unhappy to leave the house after our quick egg hunt and Easter basket reveal.

After the day spent bingeing on the assortment of chocolate, jelly beans, and Cadbury eggs that their relatives provide, no one is that hungry when we get home. We need some substance to bring the blood sugar down, so a few ham sandwiches and potato salad are as fancy as we get. A loaf of Paska bread is more likely to be consumed for breakfast the rest of the week than it is to be eaten on Easter. A butter lamb would either be saved forever in a sacred corner of the refrigerator for posterity, or else brutally beheaded and left as a centerpiece on the table for a week.

As the kids aren’t big fans of hard-boiled eggs, or red beet eggs, getting rid of the few dozen we boil for decorating will be a challenge enough.

Since we rarely have an Easter break that adheres to the schedule that was originally posted at the beginning of the school year, making any kind of big plans, or traveling is just about out of the question for us.

So our break usually turns into a long weekend of reorganizing and recharging and gearing up for the last few weeks of school, with a day of quality family time and lots of sugar.

Although I’m grateful for any quality family downtime we have, especially as the kids get older, I am sad to see some of our older traditions fall to the wayside, especially those “old country” ones.

Family recipes for kielbasa are disappearing. I have to Google all the “right things” to put in an Easter basket.

As I raced around trying to get last-minute things together on Good Friday, I could hear my grandfather’s voice in my head admonishing me for not being still and reflective during the afternoon hours when Jesus hung on the cross.

Trying to find the balance between the old and the new, the necessary and the extra, the tradition and the spontaneous is always tricky. Since Easter and spring are about renewal, maybe it’s time to let go of the old and embrace the new.

As I sit in church with my family on Sunday morning, being grateful for new life, I will also be grateful that my family is together, even if their polo shirts don’t match and Monday morning is going to bring a sugar hangover and crankiness.

Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.

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