By Joe Rector

Well, here it is, the biggest week in the Christian year. I know most folks think that Christmas is more popular, but when the beliefs that we claim to hold are considered, Easter wins hands down. I’ve always liked the day, even the strange things.

As a kid, I liked going to Sunday school on Easter. It was as if a whole year of lessons culminated in the events of that day. Daddy always seemed to be off work on Easter, and he herded us toward the car for the two mile drive to Beaver Ridge Methodist Church.

Preacher Clark was the first minister I remember at the church. Everyone knew a crowd would show up, and plans to accommodate worshipers included setting up folding chairs in the aisles. We’d stand to sing such songs as “Up from the Grave He Arose” and “The Old Rugged Cross,” but the one that always seemed to bring tears to every adult was “In the Garden.”

Another good thing about Easter was the meal that Mother prepared. For a change from other holidays, she served ham, and a huge bowl of potato salad along with several other dishes were also fixed. We’d have aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents at our table, and the noise from talking and laughing filled the kitchen, as well as other places where hungry folks sat.

The Saturday night before Easter, my brothers and I gathered around the kitchen table to color Easter eggs. I can still remember the smell of vinegar and stained fingers from the dyes in cups. We took this part of Easter seriously. Each of us wrote our name on an egg, and then we divvied up the tasks of making special eggs for our parents and grandparents.

The next morning, we’d race to the kitchen to see our Easter baskets. Just like at Christmas, Mother managed to juggle half a dozen chores, and one them was retrieving our baskets from the attic and then filling them with grass, eggs, and candy. Until the last year of her life, we boys and even our wives were presented baskets on that special Sunday.

We prayed the night before Easter for fair weather. Nothing was any worse than a wet, soggy Easter because that meant our egg hunts would be confined to inside. Most years, we were fortunate to have clear weather, and we wore out adults by insisting they hide the eggs over and over and over. When cousins came to the house, we hunted with them; by the time we’d finished, many of the egg shells were shattered. That was okay because Mother used the “bruised” ones to make eggs salad for our school lunches.

My favorite thing about Easter when I was a child was getting new clothes. Somehow, my parents found a way to come up with enough cash for new outfits and shoes for the day. It was important to them that we look our best on such a special day.

When Jim and I were little guys, Mother bought matching outfits that even included hats. As we grew older, our clothes were more sensible and doubled as a second outfit to wear to church or other more formal functions where jeans were frowned upon. On Easter morning, we’d march outside for pictures of the entire family dressed in their church garb. Daddy was in a hurry to finish so we wouldn’t be late, and sometimes the grumpy inside him sneaked out long enough to let us know that we needed to get with his schedule.

I don’t get clothes for Easter anymore. The fact is I don’t need anything else in my closet. However, Amy and I enjoy fixing baskets for our children, even though they are close to or already in their 30’s. This year we will spend Easter at home, and I’m looking forward to it. However, I will miss Lacey and Dallas, and I might even feel the sting of loneliness for grandson Madden. Still, we can attend church on this special day with friends and listen to a message from one of the best ministers anywhere. The love that Christ showed glows brighter on this good day.

I hope you all have a loving and blessed Easter.