April 8, 2012

Easter Downunder

I’m still getting used to being upside down: Christmas in summer, Easter in autumn, winter hitting in June... For me, holidays are so indelibly linked to the seasons that Easter, and its ancient history of springtime renewal and rebirth, seems hopelessly out of sync with our shortening days and the root vegetables that have appeared in the grocery stores.

Growing up, Easter was my favourite holiday. And not just because of the chocolate. No, my best, brightest memories are of walking in the woods with my mum, dressed in a gauzy new dress, searching for trilliums and Easter lilies—those first signs of spring.

You have a choice when you head out cruising—you can hold fast to the customs of home and try to impose them on the place you find yourself. Or you can try to go deeper (maybe?) and find that sweet spot where your family’s traditions and the world around you make peace with each other.

The idea of holidays—the repetition of stories and rituals—which eventually become part of your identity seems lost to cruising families. Maybe you can keep them for a year or two, but by year three, four, or ten you’ve added so many layers of newness and change to your life that what you end up celebrating rarely bears any resemblance to what you started with.

I think this is one of the poignant challenges for nomadic families. Most of us have touchstone traditions that root us to a place, or a spiritual path. But as we travel with Maia, and I thumb through my own Easter memories, trying to decide what should endure, I realize there are some memories I simply can’t recreate for her. And there are some traditions which will come and go and may never grow significant in her mind. And maybe that’s okay.

This Easter—as I hid eggs and chocolate high on a sand dune over looking Moreton Bay—this was the quiet conversation that occurred between three mums—who, between us, have been travelling with our 5 kids for almost 18 years. We talked about the customs we’ve kept and the ones that time and distance have swept away and then we marvelled at the wonder of the egg hunt we created—one we could never recreate.

And then the children came—and they cleared the dunes in what seemed like seconds. In their hands they held eggs and melting chocolate. And then they laughed and played on the dunes—surfing down them.

And maybe someday when they plan their own Easters and they search their memories for some nostalgic moment to recreate, the missing ingredient might just be sand.


Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

What fun-you all really know how to make a holiday hum; thanks for sharing your adventures.

Happy April wherever you are and however you feel.

Michael Robertson said...

I enjoyed this. Michael

Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

Thanks Lynda--I love holidays. Even if I'm not the organized type--when it comes to planning them. somehow they still occur. And thanks Michael--your kind words are always appreciated!