How to Celebrate Easter Monday

Does the sweetness of Easter ever leave a bad taste in your mouth?
The mounds of colorful candy, the cute white shoes with eyelet lace, the lilies, even the early-morning sunshine sometimes feels saccharine against real life.  Instead of pastel egg Sunday perfection, my life looks more like weekday running to Shopko at the last minute to get a pair of white tights because they are out of the lace-edged socks, and last year’s don’t fit.  
But early today (the Saturday before Easter) the women in my family and some close friends gathered at our country church to shower my sister with presents for her upcoming baby.  
Over the past four years I’ve seen her with my two kiddos, and I’ve often wondered at motherhood with a lump in my throat, knowing she would make the best mom, and hoping for possibility.  
So as we gathered for the party, I wanted the event to somehow encapsulate the gratitude I felt for this hoped-for little person.  The blue and pink-lined muffins were Pinterest-worthy, the diaper cake spot-on, and yet I found myself with that same saccharine Easter feeling, as the lived party couldn’t live up to my deep and true excitement for my sister.
As the guests left, a number of us gathered in the kitchen.  As we wiped dishes down, my three-year-old-blonde-spark-plug daughter followed her Grandma around, her little fists clenched on her shirt hem, ensuring she could ride home with her and not with boring old me.  As she bopped around, we noted how she looks like the baby pictures of my sister that we had used to decorate.  
As aunts and friends paused in a circle around the kitchen island, my mother’s hands moved from the dish towel to the baby pictures with pride, noting her favorite as she held its edge a little longer than the rest.  It wasn’t long before someone grabbed the next dish to wash, but I lingered in that feeling and breathed a prayer of thanks.
As I looked across that kitchen circle at my radiant sister, her large blue eyes smiling at the corners, glowing, so beautiful, I sensed how we’re all filled with the life that we’ve been hoping for, even when we don’t feel it, even on a plain old Monday morning.  Easter is not something we do or plan, but something that surprises us, like a sweet breeze we didn’t expect, like a circle of community bound back further than my own memory.  
This moment right now–whenever you might be reading it, and no matter how you’re feeling–is a day to celebrate Easter.  Yes, the cross of Good Friday startles us, and leaves us uncomfortable in our pew, but we don’t stay there.  For just a second in that circle of women, I tasted the deep goodness of Easter seeing those generations of women wrapped around the stairs-steps of life, all of it strangely held together by casseroles and kitchens.
In all of it, I’m left with nothing to say, but thanks.

“He is risen.  He is not here.” (Mark 16:6)

Today’s Thanks:
Easter Egg “hunt” in the school gym
Strawberries in my Grandma’s glass bowl
Singing on a rainy car ride
Your turn. . . 

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