Easter sunrise 2013.

Easter sunrise – 2013

Easter is my favorite holiday.  The onset of Spring, with blooming flowers and new growth abounding everywhere you look, bears witness to the glory of Easter and the One who makes all things new.

I love coloring Easter eggs, waking before dawn to attend the lakefront sunrise service by my home, and transforming my little girl into a pink fluff of cotton candy.  Then there is the time spent with my loud, boisterous extended family.  We feast on a wide array of Southern fare and lounge on the porch to watch the spectacle of the annual Easter egg hunt.

With five daughters, my mother had the daunting task of ensuring all her girls were dressed to the nines come Easter Sunday.  Weeks before, we would go into town to Wool-Co or K-Mart and pick out our Easter dresses.  I loved trying on the wide brimmed hats adorned with ribbons, lace gloves, white patent leather Mary-Janes, and poufy pastel dresses.  Being too poor to buy them outright, my mom would usually place our dresses on lay-away.  Sometimes we would go visit our dresses and dream of the day we could spring them out of lock-up.  Once I got my dress home, I would try it on nearly every day and twirl around my bedroom in gleeful anticipation of the oohs and ahhs my dress would most surely receive as I entered the church’s vestibule on Easter morning.

Easter Sunday 1978.  That's me in the back, with my Dad and siblings Melanie, Melinda, Will, Michelle, and Melissa.

Easter Sunday 1978. That’s me in the back, with my Dad and siblings Melanie, Melinda, Will, Michelle, and Melissa.

After church and a big lunch, my family would have the mother of all Easter egg hunts.  Living out in the country, we had a huge one-acre yard.   That kind of real estate turned an otherwise run-of-the-mill Easter egg hunt into an Olympic sport.  Oh, how I wish my parents had a video camera back in the 1970s so I could recall the sight of six rag tag kids armed with baskets full of fake grass, diving into snaky weeds and ant piles in the hopes of finding the Holy Grail of Easter eggs — the prize egg.  Back then, the prize egg was a large, bright silver, plastic egg that once housed my mom’s suntan pantyhose.  In leaner times, the prize egg contained a buck worth of quarters, but in times of prosperity, mom would slip a crisp five-dollar bill into the egg, upping the ante and prompting her litter of young’uns to go wild.

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The L’Eggs egg that served as our prize egg.

Today, my siblings and I have the profound pleasure of watching our own gaggle of children run around with their frilly Easter baskets, fumbling through flower pots and searching around oak trees for the prize egg, whose bounty has not been adjusted for inflation since 1979.

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My nephew Jonathan, niece Janae’, and sister Melissa, going for the Easter egg glory.

Easter is usually celebrated right around the same time as my birthday.  Many times my sister Melanie will make a white coconut Easter bunny cake to mark the occasion.  Even as a grown woman, I love that Easter bunny cake, with its licorice whiskers and jelly bean bow tie.

Easter 2010, with my bunny birthday cake.

Easter 2010, with my bunny birthday cake.

My twelfth birthday actually fell on Easter Sunday, and I chose that special day to be baptized in the river behind my church.  It was the 80s, so underneath my robe of white I wore an Ocean Pacific t-shirt and a pair of navy corduroys.  A gold lightning bolt, not a cross, dangled from around my neck.

That was one of the coldest Easters on record.  I vividly remember wading into the freezing water, my feet sinking into the muck.  I was terrified that an alligator may be lurking nearby and would snatch me away.  This was Florida, after all, and gator mating season to boot.  Fortunately, I convinced myself that Jesus would not allow such a tragedy to befall me while I was being baptized … on Easter … and on my birthday no less.  When it came time to be baptized, the preacher stood beside me and plunged me down into the dark, murky depths and lifted me out again before guiding me out of the river and onto dry ground.

As I prepare to celebrate Easter again this year, I fondly recall all of the precious memories of Easters past and my birthday baptism especially.   What a beautiful day it was and what an amazing image of God’s grace.  For in those dark times of life, when the weight of the world seeks to drown me in despair, God is still faithful to lift me out of the miry pit and set my feet on solid ground.

My family at this year's Easter sunrise service in my neighborhood.

My family at this year’s Easter sunrise service in my neighborhood.

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