For as long as I can remember, my favorite holiday was Easter. Even as a kid – it was Easter. Might seem a little odd…most kids prefer Christmas or Thanksgiving or maybe even the 4th of July because of all the traditional family celebrations and festivities. That’s exactly why I chose Easter.
Let’s just say I grew up in a “tense” household. My mom did her best to contain my father’s unexpected, uncontrollable outbursts but given we never knew when he was going to explode, she had an incredibly tough job. Because I was often the target of his rage – or felt like the target – I much preferred to limit my exposure to him. Traditional holidays meant we had to pretend to be a happy family which resulted in far too much togetherness for my comfort. The more time together, the greater the likelihood someone would set him off. Those holidays also served as a kind of in-your-face reminder of what was missing from my family. That sense of safety and happiness that my friends had with their families…that sense of love and comfort with their fathers…I didn’t have that and being reminded of it, especially during holidays, seemed cruel.
So I learned to develop my own coping mechanisms. One of which was simply to decide I wasn’t going to like the traditional family holidays. That way, if the day took a turn, I wasn’t disappointed…ok, maybe I was still disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised. Another strategy that worked really well for me was to pick a holiday that wasn’t a big deal for my friends and make it my holiday of choice.
I chose Easter. It was an easy pick for me. From an early age my grandparents started a tradition of hiding baskets at their house that my sister and I would seek out using that game that never gets old – “hot/cold”. Let me state for the record, though, these weren’t your ordinary Easter baskets. Sure, they were filled with chocolate and all the typical Easter treats, but they also usually had some money buried amongst the fake grass. And the biggest surprise of all….we always got a new pair of shoes!!! Every year. Easter meant going to my grandparents, eating too much chocolate, counting our loot, and getting a new pair of shoes. All my friends…they just went to Church…had Easter egg hunts…and got the traditional baskets. I was the envy with my new kicks. It felt good…not to be envied…but to be happy. Somehow, my dad never managed to fuck up Easter. I think that that’s about the only “any thing” I can say that about.
This year, I drove to my mom’s. The gathering was smaller than in years past – just my mom, stepdad, sister and her family, and my grandma. But other than the missing aunts and cousins, it wasn’t that different. Not true – it was a little different knowing that my mom is sick but as I was sitting there talking about silly stuff with the family, I realized that it kinda felt like any random Sunday. The magic of Easter wasn’t there anymore. As I thought about this on the drive home, I came to the conclusion that that’s a good thing. I’ve gotten far enough away from the trauma my father inflicted that I’m able to see each holiday for what it is: a chance to celebrate life and the people that are important to me so I’ve become selective about how I celebrate and with whom.
Thanksgiving isn’t just for family for me…I do a Friendsgiving dinner at my house each year too to celebrate the people that have made an impact on my life. Christmas isn’t about gift giving, it’s about sharing thoughtfulness with one another and offering a token of appreciation and love…whether that be a gift, a card, or just some kind words. The 4th of July is my chance to direct traffic (inside joke)…no, it’s a chance to throw a big party and consciously be thankful for all our freedoms that every other day we take for granted. My birthday…well that’s a month long celebration of shedding the old and setting new intentions which usually culminates with a trip somewhere with a selected witch or the whole damn coven! I could go on but I think you get the idea.
Easter isn’t my favorite holiday anymore because I’ve learned to appreciate each holiday…each day…for the opportunity to spend time with, talk to, thank, and appreciate the wonderful humans in my life. As a child, I would have never dreamt I’d feel like this. As an adult, I can’t imagine feeling any other way.
Happy Easter! More importantly, happy Sunday!