By Holly Gustafson
The Easter season is actually 25% longer than Lent, and yet often, at least in our house, it seems to only last a day. A week later, once the kids are back at school, the dance rehearsals and band recitals have filled our calendar, and the spring sports season has begun, Easter is all but forgotten. And it’s no surprise. The secular world treats Easter as a date on the calendar, a single day of chocolate eggs and stuffed bunnies in pastel baskets, all of which magically disappear from store shelves the following day. Suddenly, Easter is over.
So how can we, as a family, in the domestic Church of our homes, embrace Easter and celebrate it for the full fifty days?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Create an Easter centerpiece
One year, in an attempt to keep my children mindful of Easter for the full length of the season, I decided to leave out our Easter decorations and toys, all the way up until Pentecost. And although I spent the entire fifty days tripping over plastic bunnies, chicks, and eggs, it certainly did the trick to help us keep the paschal season top of mind. However, you don’t need to spend the next month and a half stepping on Easter-themed dollar store junk that your kids have left around the house like I did; a single centerpiece will do! Try a simple white candle, or if you’re feeling particularly crafty, make a Swedish Easter tree (called a påskris) with a few branches and found feathers. Whatever you choose, set it in the middle of the table or another special place in your home, where it will serve as a reminder to you and your family that we are still in Risen time.
2. Go to Confession
Many families make the heroic effort to get the entire crew to confession during Lent, and this is always a worthy goal. But if the forty days somehow slipped by without the opportunity for confession, it’s not too late! Easter is the season of Mercy, so what a perfect time to have another chance to get your family (or just yourself) to confession, and since the days of fasting are over, make sure to celebrate with a treat afterward!
3. Anticipate the Spirit
During Lent, we patiently fast in anticipation for the great spiritual feast of Easter; during Easter why not build the anticipation for the mysterious “Spirit of truth” that the apostles were promised and eventually experienced on the day of Pentecost? Pray the Come Holy Spirit prayer as a family at the end of every night, emulating the apostles’ expectant hope for the Counsellor who would teach them all things, and keep in their remembrance all that Jesus said to them.
4. Seek Joy
As an imperfect parent of imperfect children, I always have ample opportunity to be disappointed, in them, and in myself. The kids behaved poorly in mass. They bickered all afternoon. They’ve left their stuff all over the house. I lost my temper and yelled. During the Paschal season, why not be on the lookout for Easter Moments, moments of peace in the conflict, hope in the frustration, and order in the chaos? Take note of these small, miraculous moments throughout the day, or, at the end of the day, reflect back and list five Easter Moments you experienced. The teenagers balked at going to mass, but they were there. The kids stopped fighting for a few minutes and jumped on the trampoline together. They put their laundry away the first time I asked. I was uncharacteristically patient. By focusing on these small moments of joy in the messiness of our daily lives, we can live out the Easter Joy that Jesus’ resurrection promises, for the full fifty days, and beyond.
Holly Gustafson lives with her husband, James, and their five children, in Regina, where they attend Christ the King Parish. Holly received her Masters in Linguistics at the University of Manitoba, and now pursues her love of language through art, writing, public speaking, and unsolicited grammatical advice. The best advice she ever received was from her spiritual friend, St. Faustina, who told her that when in doubt, "Always ask Love. It advises best."
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