Celebrating holidays on the road can present some special challenges. I reflected on this back at Christmas , which was our first holiday in our camper, but we had yet to hit the road at that point and we were still able to celebrate with family and many familiar traditions.
A Traditional Easter?
Everyone has their own traditions around certain holidays, of course, but I grew up celebrating Easter as second only to Christmas – a big family celebration. Aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparents’ table for a big ham dinner. We always got new clothes for Easter, and new shoes which were invariably covered in mud by the end of the day from hunting for eggs outside in the backyard. My grandmother kept a careful count of how many eggs were hidden, and what colors they were, but we never found them all. Ever. And my grandfather could never remember where he’d hidden them. Once the kids had hunted, the adults went out searching too, but there were always eggs missing. Occasionally, if more blue eggs were found than had been hidden, we knew we’d found a leftover from last year.
But cousins grow up and one generation gives way to the next. Traditions change, as they must. My grandparents didn’t live long enough to hide Easter eggs for my kids. When we moved to Sweden, I found myself in a culture where Easter was much further down the list of prioritized holidays. Missing the big family gatherings, we found ways to celebrate with friends who were like family, but nothing ever developed to tradition status. This year was our first Easter back in the US for a long time – our kids’ first American Easter. I desperately wanted to make it special, yet we were in a national park in Arkansas, far from family or anything familiar.
Perspective Shift in the Seasonal Aisle
It felt important to me that we celebrate well, since this first year could set the pattern for future years. I am also learning, slowly and painfully, that the less pressure I put on an event and/or myself, the better it tends to turn out. In the midst of this tension, I headed to a nearby Walmart to buy Easter baskets and whatever else I could find to build a special celebration. And while I did manage to fill a few bags, I realized as I shopped that what I was really searching for couldn’t be put in a shopping cart. More than candy and plastic eggs, what I most wanted to give my kids at Easter was that magical feeling I remember from my own childhood. And that didn’t come from a basket full of my favorite candy or the jingle of the coins my grandparents put in the plastic eggs we hunted. It came from the people I was with and how well they loved me. It was a much needed shift in perspective, and a pretty big revelation for the middle of the overly pastel seasonal aisle.
Armed with better perspective, we decided to be intentional about what was most important to us in the day and to let everything else go.
Being together, doing something together that we all enjoy
Simplicity and Peace
Stress and perfectionism
Over-scheduling/trying to do too much
A Beautiful Day
So here’s how we chose to celebrate Easter on the road in 2017. Whether or not any of it becomes tradition remains to be seen.
The kids woke up to find their Easter baskets, which they had left empty on the table when they went to sleep, had been filled by the Easter bunny. It was not hard to accept that the rooster who left candy-filled eggs in their hats under their beds in Sweden was not able to travel all the way to Arkansas, but they were thankful that the American Easter bunny was both generous and able to find them at the campground.
We got dressed in clothes that were nice, but not bought specifically for the occasion, and went to church. Our kids understand the meaning and importance of the day much better than I ever did at their age, and worship was a very natural way to begin our celebrations. We chose a Presbyterian church nearby and joined them for their Easter service. On the way back to the campground, we stopped for some groceries for our Easter meal.
Time together doing something we all enjoy? Time to hit the trail. A short hike up to an overlook and back was just right.
Then we played in the creek that runs through the campground.
We skipped the fancy traditional foods in favor of grilled ham and cheese sandwiches cooked over a fire in our brand new pie iron. We built our feast around favorite foods that can either be eaten cold or cooked over the fire. We sat outside around the picnic table, and enjoyed a simple meal together without any whining or arguing. Simplicity and peace.
At the end of the day, we felt calm and relaxed. We celebrated resurrection by doing things that brought us life and left us feeling refreshed and restored. The irony is that giving up my quest for a “perfect holiday” resulted in a day that was about as perfect as I could imagine. It looked nothing like the Easters of my childhood, but new life allows for new traditions. May we take this lesson to heart as we continue to learn to celebrate holidays on the road.
Posted in Simplify and tagged Easter, Full-time families, holiday travel, new traditions by Christine with 4 comments.