Easter Is The New Christmas

According to my Sacred Ordinary Days Planner, which I’ve been writing about since the New Year, Easter last until May 15th. That’s right! It’s not just a day; it’s a season. May 15th!   That is six and a half weeks from now.  This is GOOD NEWS!   Why didn’t anyone tell me this before now?  I’m an empty nester already.  I could have left out the plastic eggs, baskets, chicks, and bunnies and even kept eating the malted milk eggs for six weeks with no guilt for all those years. 

As I have said before, I haven’t been immersed in churches that seriously follow the liturgical calendar, so this 7-week celebration of Easter was unbeknown to me.  I’ve packed up the bunnies the Monday after Easter, planted the lilies in the yard, and thrown out the plastic grass and shards of chocolate moving on to my children’s spring sports and pulling weeds. 

According to the SOD planner, “Easter is the pinnacle of the liturgical year.”  If that’s so, shouldn’t we at least celebrate it as long as we do Christmas?    I have friends and family who pride them selves on having Christmas all cleaned up and put away by December 26th.  One neighbor even took her tree down and had it on the curb by the afternoon of the 25th.   I resisted this for two reasons: because I finally got to slow down after Christmas and enjoy the decorations for a few days, even if the bottom of the tree was bare, and primarily because my husband absolutely insisted we keep the tree up until New Years, promising to help with the clean up if I’d leave it.  Who turns that down?  

A friend who is a lifelong Episcopalian clued me in to the whole 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany and lo and behold, I had a reason to do what had seemed natural in our household at Christmas, despite my ‘johnny on the spot’ family and neighbors who wonder why I leave the drying, browning, Frasier fir wreath on the door until Jan. 6th.  

I now have a glorious reason to be in no hurry to put up the furry yellow chicks who perch on the dining room table or the bunny who reigns over the egg wreath in the breakfast room.  My five bird’s nests with eggs scattered on tables around the house are going to sit right where they are until May 15th.

The colors of Easter are white and gold, reminding us of the joy of resurrection and the brightness of day. After the cold and darkness of winter,  the cloudy, obscure, and finally dark journey, Lent’s purple and gray, the pain and mourning,  give way to white and yellow, to clarity and light and warmth, to presence and peace, like the first spring morning when you can actually feel the sun’s warmth on your skin. 

Years ago, when I still drove kids to school every morning, I noticed daffodils blooming in the corner of a yard on my return trip. The yellow blossoms have been my favorite since childhood.  A few were blooming, others just small green shoots, and a few more just mounds pushing at the pine straw. I pondered that these first delicate flowers of spring push their way from inside a bulb, through dark, cold, hard earth, and their tender green leaves move the pine straw out of the way. Then I realized: they don’t push their way through it at all.  The sun coaxes them. The warmth and bright light of approaching spring, the mysterious pull of the yellow-white sunlight brings beauty out of the dark earth.

It was a long Lenten season for me, my first attempt at living into it, and it didn’t go so well.  So I’m taking my seven weeks of Easter. It’s not just a day; it’s a season, one in which to practice celebration.  I’m celebrating white, gold, resurrection, joy, renewal, victory, life, love and freedom…and chocolate bunnies, dyed eggs, ham and jellybeans.