Some of my fondest memories as a child involve celebrating Easter Sunday with my large Catholic Mexican family.
Growing up with nine siblings, and even more aunts, uncles and cousins, my favorite involves heading to the park where we would all gather for a family barbecue, a competitive game of baseball, volleyball or soccer and an Easter Egg Hunt for all of us kids.
Of course, this was after we went to Easter Sunday service where the church was always overflowing with parishioners dressed to the nines celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.
After marrying my college sweetheart, Rene, and becoming a mother of two, I’ve made it a point to keep these family traditions alive so my children, Emma (7) and Sebastian (5), can also grow up with the same great childhood memories.
But this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Easter Sunday is going to be like none we’ve ever experienced. It may even be the most memorable and not by choice.
With our local Catholic church closed to help minimize the spread of the virus, instead of getting dressed to head out to Mass, we will get dressed in our Sunday best to watch Easter Sunday services on TV from our living room.
Emma and I will wear our bright-colored floral dresses. Rene and Sebastian will wear their ties and equally bright-colored shirts. We are dressing up not only because when you look good you feel good, but because it’s the day the Lord has made to rejoice in his promise of eternal salvation. There couldn’t be a better excuse to look one’s best.
Instead of heading out to Riverside to celebrate with my dad, siblings, brother-in-laws, nieces and nephews, where we would give lots of hugs and kisses, we’ll be Zooming to have a virtual celebration where we will be giving lots of air hugs and kisses.
Thank God we have technology to keep us all connected. This health crisis has left so many people feeling alone and depressed. We’re choosing to stay connected with family and friends and help one another focus on Jesus’ resurrection to help renew our faith — to give us peace and help bring a sense of calm during these challenging times.
Instead of visiting the Easter Bunny, and hiding eggs for the kiddos at what would normally be a packed park, Rene and I will hide eggs for Emma and Sebastian around the house and in our backyard.
It’ll be extra special with a scavenger hunt and personalized baskets with things they love from their current toy boxes. We’ll explain that it’s not about getting new things but being grateful for what you already have and appreciating one another.
There may be some sad faces and objections, but we’ll give them extra hugs and kisses and hold on to each other extra tight. It’s during these times that we have to show each other just how much we love one another and focus on all the blessings around us.
I know it’s so easy to lose sight of the many blessings in our lives with so much uncertainty and tragedy around us right now. I’m no stranger to tragedy. My mother passed away 11 years ago to the day on the date that I wrote this. It was a sudden, tragic death. She died alone in a hospital.
As I watch people today whose loved ones are passing away from the coronavirus and they’re not able to say goodbye in person, my heart aches for them. My mother was a devout Catholic. Days before her death, she wrote us all a letter saying goodbye and reconciling with her children and my dad.
In her letter she wrote, “Everything is temporary and the will of God. We live the passion of Christ in this life, his painful passion is repeated in every human being.”
Right now, we’re being called to take up our cross and walk with him and know that we will all emerge from this even more resilient like Jesus did. Isn’t that what Easter is all about?
So while we won’t get to do the traditional Easter celebration this year, we will be rejoicing now more than ever. We will look forward to churches and parks reopening. We will look forward to gathering again with family and friends to celebrate.
Meantime, we will embrace where we are today, grow closer in our faith and not allow fear to get the best of us.