Hunting for Eggs and Apartments

17814282_10210272324457868_3436768655060859814_oEvery year, Ken and I host a giant Easter celebration for our combined families. My parents come for the weekend (typically bringing my brother and his daughter with them), the kids dye eggs on Saturday, we play games until late into the night, attend the early morning Easter Sunday Mass, and come home to get the food ready for our guests. Once everyone is here, we pray, feast (and I mean feast), and watch as the kids try to find approximately 500 stuffed Easter eggs. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the entire year, and I hope to continue these traditions for many years to come.

This year, I was acutely aware of the many changes heading our way within the coming months. At Mass, I watched Katie proclaim the readings, and wondered if she would continue in that ministry when she heads off to Immaculata University next year. I watched Morgan tend to the needs of the elderly priest, knowing this was probably her last time as an altar server on Easter Sunday as she is moving on to lectoring and giving Communion. When Rebecca, Katie, and I all three shared in the ministry of giving Communion (yes, it’s a very small church), I wondered if this would be the last time that we were all four on the altar together.

17972441_10212878236580691_7290950570728900784_oBack at the house, Rebecca went straight to work, helping to straighten up, set tables, and prepare food. When the food was served, she even helped herself to a glass of wine. The realization hit me: she’s no longer my little girl. At some point, my firstborn became an adult. The talk between Rebecca and her best friend, Bailey, whose family has been sharing Easter with us for as long as I can remember, centered around the fact that this would be their last year as participants in the Easter egg hunt. There comes a time when the hunters must become the hiders, and they planned to make the most of their last year as hunters, kidding about which one would find the most chocolate and the most $1 bills.

When it came time to hide the eggs, my brother, Mike; Bailey’s sister, Shelby; their mom, Debbie (my best friend); and I went out with the giant box of 500 eggs. It was the first time since Rebecca was a toddler that I participated in hiding the eggs. I could have found others to take on the task. After all, I had guests with whom to visit and dishes to wash, but something in me said that it was important that I go out. Maybe it was the knowledge that I was the one who hid the eggs for Rebecca’s first Easter egg hunt, and I had to be the one to hide them this year, on the occasion of her last. I don’t know; I just knew that I wanted to have a hand in hiding those colorful, treasure-laiden, plastic eggs.

Watching Lulu, my cousin’s three-year-old, excitedly scoop up one egg after another, I was reminded of how quickly time goes by. It’s an elusive creature, time, unable to be seen, heard, captured, or pinned down. Only in pictures and in our memories can we stop the clock and keep the creature at bay. This fact really hit me on Monday as Rebecca and I spent the day visiting apartments in the DC area. When did she grow old enough to live on her own in the city? I can’t stop her from moving on to the next phase of her life any easier than I can return to those days when she was the one in her fancy dress and white, patent leather shoes, expressing pure joy over every egg she found. CUA Law School awaits, along with a future she can only imagine.

So here’s to tradition. Here’s to family gatherings, blessed meals, toddlers and children of all ages hunting for eggs, enjoying a drink with your child adult, and watching your children grow and take flight. Here’s to remembering the things that matter most in life: God, family, friends, and loving and serving others. May your Easter season (which has only just begun) be filled with all of the above. And may our family Easter egg hunts go on for, at least, another twenty-one years.

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Be a Person of Encouragement.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  Lent is over. Now what? by Matt Hadro on Catholic News AgencyWhat is “brain hacking”? Tech insiders on why you should care aired on 60 Minutes, April 9, 2017.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me  and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale as well as Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms, her collaboration with the authors of the blog, Y’all Need Jesus.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)

The Top Ten Reasons Easter is Irrelevant

DSC09185I read a news piece recently that said that the majority of Americans believe that Easter has become irrelevant and that celebrating it is “a waste of time,” “meaningless,” and “completely unnecessary.” While I will not argue that too many people associate Easter with Peter Cottontail rather than Christ, I was surprised at the vehemence of some of the respondents. So I gave it a lot of thought, and I’ve come up with a Top Ten List of why Easter has become irrelevant in our present-day society. Counting backwards:

10.  Easter parades just tie up traffic and cause delays. Of course, parades are often associated with holidays, but the Easter parade began, not as a celebration but as a procession. In the Mid-1800s, Christians processed to Mass on Easter Sunday, wearing their new Easter clothes after a long, forty-day period of fasting and abstaining. Onlookers gathered to watch the church-goers go by in their new, spring clothes. For many families, Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection, was the only time when new clothes and shoes were purchased. Of course, today, we have the luxury of purchasing new clothes, shoes, toys, housewares, electronics, and anything else we want, every day of the week. Like so many other practices, the purchase of an Easter dress is just another tradition that we can get rid of. Who needs to celebrate the putting on of new clothes after emerging from Lent a new and better person?

9.  Those silly little Easter eggs are completely pointless. Why would anyone want to look for those when they can find virtual reality creatures instead? After all, the tradition of using eggs to symbolize the Resurrection is so out of date. Lost is the reason for the eggs: the hard shell being cracked open in representation of the empty tomb. Eggs were once only painted red, a reminder of the blood that Christ shed on the cross. Even outside of Christianity, the egg is used in many cultures as a symbol of life and rebirth. But who cares about celebrating life anyway?

8.  Easter egg rolls have no meaning and are a waste of time.  Unless, of course, you use the activity to relate to your children that the eggs are rolled to remind us that the stone sealing Jesus’ tomb was rolled away, revealing the risen Christ.

7.  But why the Easter Bunny? Surely this is a ridiculous and silly tradition. It’s hard to argue that the visitation of the gift-bearing bunny on Easter morning is anything but a commercial invention to sell more chocolate. Of course, many people don’t know that German immigrants, in the 1700s, brought to the United States the tradition of the Easter Bunny, a sign of life and rebirth. Osterhase was a colored-egg laying hare for whom children built nests in which the hare could lay her eggs. But of course, teaching children about ethnic traditions, caring for the world’s creatures, and building homes for others are just more wastes of time.

 

6. Forcing kids to put down their phones and other electronic devices in order to enjoy time in the outdoors or with their relatives is a waste of their potential. Why use their brains to hunt for eggs when their phones can locate the exact geo-location of some trinket or useless “treasure” or even better, the elusive Pokemon character, Magmar (yes, I had to look that one up).

 

5.  Taking a Sunday off from watching  baseball, NASCAR, and other sporting events to spend time with family is just ridiculous. After all, the other sports fans play a much larger role in your life than your family, and maybe you’re one of the lucky ones whose parents and siblings will live forever. You can see them any time.

4.  Easter is only about receiving chocolate, and I can eat that whenever I want.  Somewhere, I believe I was taught that Easter is about receiving Salvation, but I suppose that’s not important anymore since we have all we could ever need in this current life. Why worry about a possible life beyond?

3.  Easter Sunday Mass is just another, boring hour of being lectured about some guy who died two-thousand years ago. Nobody today needs to hear about Jesus. He was just some prophet who walked on the earth, cured the blind and lame, fulfilled all of the ancient prophesies about a Messiah, including those about His crucifixion, and then rose from the dead. As they say, those stories will never last. Soon, He will be forgotten like all those who claim to be something or someone they are not. What’s two-thousand years anyway?

2.  The return of the singing of the Gloria and the resounding Alleluia after forty-days of solemn celebrations doesn’t need to be heard, and the Gospel of the Resurrection doesn’t need to be told. Our children will learn about and understand the importance of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ in school and from their friends. Oh wait… maybe not. Oh well, I guess it’s just not important then.

1.   There is no reason to view the Resurrection as a glimpse into the afterlife, the promise of a world yet to come for those who believe. We have everything we could ever want right here, right now. We have everlasting peace, the elimination of poverty, hunger, and strife, only benevolent and loving rulers, and the promise that we can live for all eternity in harmony and tranquility. Right? There’s no reason to hope for a new life, a life of splendor and glory, a life in which we will rise from our earthly graves and experience pure ecstasy with our loved ones and our creator. Don’t you agree? I guess you’ll have to answer that question for yourself. As for me and my family, we will spend Sunday morning singing, praising, and worshiping, while wearing our new Easter dresses, and will then host a giant Easter egg hunt with our friends and extended family. You are welcome to join us.

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.  —  COL 3:1-4

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Embracing the Romance.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  Technology Has Forever Changed Our Way of Thinking. Here’s How to Take it Back by freelance art director, Cristina Vanko; What is “brain hacking”? Tech insiders on why you should care aired on 60 Minutes, April 9, 2017.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me  and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines has just been awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale as well as Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms, her collaboration with the authors of the blog, Y’all Need Jesus.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)

Fiddling on the Roof

img_3312The Advent/Christmas season always makes me nostalgic, and that is especially true this year.  After this year, I have no idea what our Christmas festivities will resemble.  I like to think that nothing will change, that we will celebrate with our family as always, but I know that, if not this year, then in the very near future, things are bound to change.  As my children grow older and closer to beginning their own lives as adults, I can’t help but wonder which of our family traditions will hold the most meanings for them (oh, how I relate to Fiddler’s Tevye and his fight to keep his family traditions alive as his children become adults).  I grew up in a home and with a family where tradition was everything, and I’ve done my best to instill a love for tradition in my own children.  One such tradition involves our Christmas tree, our hideous, gaudy, wonderful, glorious Christmas tree.

I once had a family member tell me outright that our tree is ugly.  Sure, I know what it looks like to outsiders, but to me, there is no tree more beautiful.  Among the dozens and dozens of ornaments that adorn the tree are the wooden Raggedy Ann that was my very first ornament, a pinecone that Rebecca painted in pre-K as a gift for me, Katie’s buffalo representing the first time she saw her favorite animal live and in the wild, and the ballerina from when Morgan thought that dance class was all that mattered in the world.  Clustered amid the branches, drama masks, an altar server, three field hockey players, a tennis racket, a swimmer, a piano, an archery target, and a clarinet are joined by other such ornaments too numerous to count.  Alongside those are many handmade ornaments and an ornament from almost every place we’ve ever visited.

When Ken and I got married and moved into our first home, our Christmas tree was already decorated with twenty-two years of ornaments.  There were a bird in a nest from my Godparents, a circus train, Raggedy Ann, and many others.  Every year, my brothers and I received new ornaments that represented that year in our lives.  Those precious pieces of memorabilia now share our trees with our children’s little pieces of nostalgia.  Each Christmas season, I hunt for the perfect ornaments, the ones that the girls will pull out years from now and say, “I remember that year.” 

This year, after the girls had placed their newest ornaments on the tree (a Flamenco dancer in La Plaza de Madrid for Bec, a snorkel and goggles for Katie, and a football for Morgan), we stood back and looked at the tree. 

“I’m not doing this when I have my own house,” Morgan proclaimed.

“What do you mean?” came the question I had to push up from my throat.

“I’m going to have a beautiful tree decorated with Christmas balls and ribbons and only white lights,” she replied.

“What about our family tradition? Won’t your children get a special ornament every year?”

“If they want.  They can hang them on their own trees in their bedrooms.”

A little piece of me broke inside.  But that’s okay.  When Morgan’s children come to my house, they can help me decorate my tree.  I’ll have a special ornament waiting for each of them.

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Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016)