Note: This column appears in the 4/21 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/22 issue of the Peoria Times
Easter, as we all know, is about springtime, bonnets, bunny rabbits, and the eggs they produce. Somewhere down on that list is Jesus being raised from the dead. Oooh, also, I almost forgot: chocolate!
This Easter is going to be a special one for us, because it will be the first major holiday shared with family here in AZ. Considering our respective Irish and Italian heritages, our family’s major holidays are, in order, Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, the Day of St. Joseph, Saturdays, St. Blaze and the Blessing of the Throats Day, and every day named after a saint. If we forget about one, it’s okay, because my mother-in-law will call to remind us and say, “Don’t forget—today is the Feast of St. Lucy. So … don’t use the oven.”
Not only will my in-laws be here, but virtually the entire side of my mother-in-law’s family will be, too. That means Paul, Denise, Tony, Anna, Heather (pronounced “Heatha”), Liz, Carmine, and, of course, Salvatore. Ya’ know, the Irish side. Food and loudness and a general state of confusion will be prominently involved in our Easter celebration, as will, of course, Mass.
Last year we attended Easter Sunday Mass, just the three of us, which revealed, as it does annually, one of the more frustrating things about being a practicing Catholic/Christian: other Catholic/Christians. We left a little earlier than usual, got stuck in Easter Sunday traffic, and were forced to park in a neighborhood eight miles from church and walk. When we finally arrived, the church itself was, of course, full to capacity and we were relegated to one of the side buildings reserved for the “excess” crowd. This is pretty typical, as churches must account for the people who never go to church but consider Easter Mass a “tradition” and must show off that dress they bought at Target. As a result, I think we ended up in the cafeteria, listening to the Gospel through the same loudspeakers they use for Bingo.
So I’m a little concerned how this Sunday is going to work out. Church is about 30 minutes away, and our convoy will have a total of 12 vehicles, and according to family legend, Carmine once didn’t speak to Tony for two months after a failed attempt to follow him on a family trip to Sesame Place. When we get there and find out we’re standing in the boiler room, my father-in-law is not going to accept that, and there’s no telling what will happen as a result. Also, our daughter doesn’t sit still, ever. A scene will be made.
So yes, frustration will be felt. In Easters (and Christmases) passed, I have spent Mass tossing stern glances at all those people I do not recognize (it’s the same look I toss at regular Sunday Mass when I see someone wearing a football jersey), blaming them for the inconvenience of the holiday crowd. Where were you last week? You want to celebrate Jesus’ rising but not His entry into Jerusalem? GET OUT OF MY SEAT! Eventually I realized—that is not very Christian of me at all. So what if I’m here each week? You’re here now, and that’s all that matters. Even if you are wearing a huge, obnoxious hat and you are texting during the homily.
Let’s see if I can retain this peace of mind come Easter Sunday, when our daughter is dripping chocolate milk on her dress and I am trying to convince my father-in-law that he cannot parallel park on the church sidewalk. Yes, this will be a special Easter, hopefully for you and yours as well.