Easter is coming this weekend, and chances are loads of families will be celebrating with church visits, egg hunts, and the traditional meals of baked ham, turkey, deviled eggs, hard boiled eggs, potato salads, etc. I run a children’s group at work, and when I asked all the children what they were doing, they all had this same response. There is nothing wrong with this. Some people love the firmly rooted holiday traditions they can engage in year after year. There is something comforting and nostalgic about reliving these events annually. However, some of us seek something different. Some of wish to cast aside all notions of holidays and family traditions and seek out peace, solitude, or something that feels more rewarding and natural.
Some of us may chose to go our own ways during the holidays and continue on as if they have never happened. Some are torn between understanding the significance of time with loved ones, but wishing it could be done in a different matter. It certainly can. In some ways the true meaning and significance of holidays seem to have gotten lost to all the Martha Stewart crafts and home decor, grocery store holiday feast savings, and the ideas that each holiday should be marked by an overabundance of gift giving. It seems holidays are growing more and more in the expense, consumerism, and stereotypical ideas of what a “holiday” needs to look like. For some people this is easy, tolerable, or even enjoyable. I have known plenty a person who is thrilled by the creative egg painting, game playing, and fancy chef skills involved in making a typical, beautiful and showy enough for the cover of a magazine, Easter. In working with children, I’ve learned to enjoy and handle many of these traditions knowing how deeply ingrained they become in the youthful mind as what a holiday is. Truthfully, I’d rather be a much different type of holiday celebrator and if they were my own children, I would not be conforming.
Let me share some ideas with you that I think would make for a much more enjoyable holiday for those seeking something different, but also wanting to keep at least one of the meaningful markers of a holiday; spending time with those you care about.
First of all, I know I and probably a lot of you, would enjoy anything more if it was done in nature. Who is to say we can’t bring the holidays to nature? Of course, not in the typical way as that would suffocate nature and lead to littering and disaster. In a different way. If spending time with family around a meal is okay with you, why not bring the family fishing? Whatever you catch could make your Easter meal. Imagine that; A brilliant sunny day, relaxing next to a river, in a kayak, or wading in fly fishing boots through it with your loved ones. The serene sounds of birds chirping, leaves rustling, and water lapping against the shore of surface of a boat. The smells of fresh earth, unmodified air, and blossoming flowers and plants. The sights of glistening water, blue skies with clouds, and fresh greenery popping through. I can’t promise Easter day will look this beautiful, as the weather is super unpredictable, but it might. Wouldn’t that be fantastic. A family getting together to catch fish, grill them on a fire and have marshmallows for desert. You could sit around a nice warm fire when the day is done sharing stories about childhood memories, different experiences the family has had together, or any of the other bonding conversations you wish to have. This would bring the family together without all the cost, stress, and commercialism.
My first year of college marked a change in how my family celebrated Easter. I went away to live on campus and didn’t have a car. Getting home meant a ride or paying for the bus. My mother was feeling disgruntled with the consumerism and all the holiday induced pressure. I was worried about the pile of homework that a weekend at home would probably find me unable to finish. She suggested coming to my school for the day, which was right on the beach, and spending a day at the beach instead. We could walk around the peacefully unoccupied shore and have a seaside meal. I don’t know if you’ve had the luxury of visiting a beach off season, but it is remarkable. You will see the occasional people walking a dog, painting, or playing a game like boccie. In fact, my first introduction to boccie was actually seeing a large Italian family playing on the beach. It looked spectacular. In any case, most people are not at the beach off season. It leaves you privy to a number of things such as finding the best shells, seeing gorgeous pieces of sea glass, and being able to calmly hear all the sounds of the ocean without the bumping tones of a boombox alongside. The air feels cool and comforting, the spray of salty air changes your hair and skin. Off season beaching has an undeniable beauty.
We spent the day wandering around the beach collecting things, talking more in depth than we normally get the opportunity to, and enjoying truly uninterrupted bonding time. We found a restaurant right on the water and had an amazing meal. After this experience, we decided this was the new Easter. Each of my four years we continued our peaceful tradition. Other members of the family joined in such as my brother or grandma. The locations changed a little, but they were all beautiful moments in the calmness of nature. These Easter days left a lasting memory in my head. As a child, I enjoyed the egg hunts and games as much as the next kid, but being more grown up, this approach met new needs and desires for my holiday traditions. It offered a better way to get that closeness we crave when we see this movies and commercials of large family dinners, but it offered it in a more suitable, realistic, and purposeful way.
Maybe you’re not a water person. Why not go on a hike with your loved ones. Hikes can offer a strong bonding experience because you witness a wide number of things from stunning plant and wildlife, beautiful cliff over look views, and small creatures. You are also going through a physical struggle together and pushing limits. Well, depending on the level of difficulty in the hike you pursue. You could hike through the woods or a wildlife sanctuary sight.
One of the cool things about Easter is that since it meets with the start of spring, it is a holiday marked with gorgeous spring flowers. Why not find a meadow or large garden that is covered in these blossoming tulips and daffodils. What an ideal setting for a picnic dinner. Cook whatever you want. You can keep all the eggs and ham if you want. Just put it in a stunning picnic spot instead.
Yes, going to Holland like pictured in this image from hellomagazine.com would be perfect! However, there are gorgeous spots you can find all over the country.
There are a number of cool spots you can spend your day. You can be on a serenely isolated beach, fishing on the river, hiking through the woods, picnicking with the flowers, or possibly playing a mountain. I believe climbing could always be a part of the holidays. You could have a picnic at the top of a summit. You could bring little ones in your family to learn to climb for the first time. You could even plan an egg hunt by hiding eggs in cracks, roofs, or pockets. Egg hunting climbing style! The point is that you can bring a scenic more natural location to help soften the intensity of the holidays and bring back the natural desire for time together and companionship. Holidays are not just reserved for a dinner table or that random house of a relative you hardly ever see otherwise. You can get everyone out and engaged in something that brings more passion, exploration, and adventure.
These are just some ideas. Again, there is nothing wrong with the typical holiday enthusiast and if you are looking forward to gorging on a feast surrounded by loved ones, and all the other markers of a dream holiday, then have fun and go forth. If you are looking to connect with the holidays in a more unique way, remember there is also nothing wrong with making it your own and bringing the meaning, love of nature, and joy of the outdoors to it.