Life As We Know It

Happy Easter! Greetings from Yarmouth, Massachusetts — the land of motels and mini golf. I made the crazy decision to drive 7 hours away to see my family and then drive all the way back in time for work on Monday afternoon. We’ll see just how successful I will be tomorrow. But it’s Easter! And, though I have spent the holiday away from my family, it’s just not nearly the same without them… no holiday is, really.

Easter was a very religious thing for me as a child, growing up in a Christian household; I was the kid who used to run around in her grandparents’ backyard, singing, “Jesus!” at the top of her lungs for fun (I’m pretty sure we have that on an old home video somewhere). So while Easter meant Easter egg hunts, it also meant sunrise services and flannelboard reenactments of the stone being rolled away from Jesus’ tomb.

Today, Easter means a variety of things to me: while I still look forward to getting up at the crack of dawn for the sunrise service (the one time other than Christmas that I get excited to wake up early), I also look forward to just spring in general (especially after these past couple of winters), and the excuse to make the previously mentioned trip of insanity to Massachusetts (because, family). This year, I realized that it was time for me to analyze (as I do) my Easter experience.

Easter sunrise on Dowses Beach. Thanks a lot, clouds.

That meant I had to do a little research, instead of just relying on the ever-accurate tradition of hearsay. A little fact check never hurt anyone, and it was nice to feel a little more confident in my understanding of things.

So, maybe it’s a little assuming of me to say that it’s pretty common knowledge that bunnies and eggs don’t show up in the Bible as pertaining to Jesus’ death and resurrection. And that many people get really testy, because “Christians are trying to shoehorn Easter into the frame of Christianity and steal pagan holidays”, or adversely, “Christians shouldn’t celebrate Easter because it’s shrowded in paganism,” blah blah blah. Okay. Cool.

The research I did mainly focused around what exactly those pagan religions celebrate. “Pagan Easter” celebrates the beginning of spring, promoting the rebirth of the land and, well, survival. Whatever god it was that the people happened to celebrate — Ishtar, Eostre, Astarte, Ostara, Attis (linguistics at its finest, folks) — represented life. That’s where rabbits come in — I mean, what better mascot for a holiday representing life than the most fertile animal you can think of? The same with eggs, which symbolize new life in the most obvious of ways (I guess Christians do kind of have a tie-in here — eggs and other meat-byproducts used to be included in the abstinence of meat during Lent, so Catholics would save and decorate them for Easter).

So. Though we may be celebrating Easter for different purposes, essentially it all boils down to the same concept. But if you think that means that we all agree to get along as we celebrate our own version of the same concept on the same day, think again. Instead of embracing the concept of life together, some get caught up in discord. We’re CELEBRATING LIFE, DAMN IT. Stop being such a killjoy.

I guess I understand that people don’t like their ritualistic toes being stepped on, or that they bristle at the idea of people being happy for reasons other than their own (Humans are selfish. Own it.) — but I, for one, think it’s really cool that people of different faiths are able to find connections in the things they celebrate, even if just one day out of the year.

When I was writing the first draft of The Fields, I had a strange desire to encapsulate this weird, protective mindset that people have. In the story, two neighboring villages have conflicting views on how to do something (digging in the fields), and would do anything to defend their own village’s methods. They already hate each other for other reasons, so the digging procedure is really just a point of contention between them. And yet it should be that this is the unifying force between the villages: they may dig differently, but they still all dig. The fields are a part of who they are, their lifestyle and their origins. But they’d rather complain about how their neighbors do things wrong.

So this year, as I do the things that makes Easter “Easter” for me, I’d like to remember what makes Easter “Easter” for you. Happy Easter, folks. May your day be full of life, no matter what that means to you.

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