Easter. Ancient religions -- pre-Christianity -- celebrated the triumph of new life over death at this time of year. Every tradition still whispering in store aisles -- painted eggs, the Easter bunny, chicks, bunches of tulips -- pays homage to joyful pagan rituals that life returns. That's why the Christians chose to celebrate the resurrection at this time of year, but that's for a different blog. This is TK's blog, and so I must say this: I have never met any person who celebrates Easter so fully, in her whole soul. Some glimpses:
1. It is snowing. In April. I am walking grumpily behind TK, who is pedaling her pink and purple bike down the sidewalk. I long for sunshine, blue sky, warmth. Suddenly, I look up and notice that a man walking in the other direction is grinning at TK. A group of teenagers at a bus stop are smiling at her. I throw my grumpiness aside enough to listen. My daughter is singing "Jingle Bells" as she pedals! "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! Oh what fun it is to ride to bi-i-ike today!" My grumpiness melts like the snowflakes do as they land softly on the sidewalk.
2. It is a rare sunny day in Juneau, and the annual Alaska Folk Fest is on. TK and I are sprawled on the greening brown grass beside other children and parents, listening to musicians jam in small circles, watching as a woman hula-hoops in the center. The sky is blue, and the clouds are luminescent. Along the edges of this music-filled space, purple and yellow crocuses are blooming. TK spreads her arms and legs wide on the grass. "Ah, Mommy," she exclaims, "yay for spring!"
3. Every day that TK's at preschool, I receive a little written report from her teachers. As a harried teacher myself, I'm always amazed that the preschool teachers manage to write these half-page narratives about every child, every day. As a parent, I treasure them. Almost every one of TK's says some version of this: "TK had a blast today," "TK was so joyful today," "TK laughed most of the day today". I work to learn from such a daily decision to live in life's joy.
4. A teenager at the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship jokes to TK, “Easter’s the day we all celebrate when the Easter Bunny rose from the dead!” TK refuses to believe him. She informs him instead that the Easter Bunny didn't die, and if he did, he's coming back, because that's what he DOES. On Easter morning, when she runs out of her room to find a pastel-colored basket, a note from "Osterhar" (the Easter Bunny's German name!) and eggs hidden all over the living room, she nods confidently: "I just KNEW the Easter Bunny would come back. He always does."
5. We wander through the woods, collecting treasures and listening carefully for fairies. "Listen, Mommy!" TK whispers, cupping her small hand around her ear. "I hear the swush-swush of their wings!" We listen together, and then we creep forward along the trail, until we spot a small niche in a hemlock tree -- obviously a fairy house. "We need to leave them craisins," TK pronounces solemnly, and with her mittened hand, she leaves a handful of craisins, an offering, a gift. I believe beside her. The very trees seem to thank her.
6. On Facebook, my mom posts the photos of our March trip to Sitka -- a week from which I'm drawing strength like those crocuses must be drawing strength from the bulbs beneath the ground. In every photo, I look exhausted and worried. I suppose I'm still underground. But not TK. In every photo, TK is grinning -- beside the impressive circumference of a fallen tree in the rainforest, with raspberries on all her fingers, with my mom's glasses on, with her special "water backpack" (a Camelback) on her back. I'm clearly this child's parent, but she reminds me how to taste the world and love it, daily, moment by moment.
7. After a snuggly evening watching a Care Bears movie (remember those little pastel-colored bears with the symbols on their tummies and the moral messages in their stories?), I idly ask TK what kind of Care Bear she thought SHE would be. She doesn't even hesitate. "I'd be Morning Sunshine Bear," she says. I think of the mornings in my life I've woken to sunshine -- the warmth of it, the good grace of it, the hope of it. And I'm sure that's exactly the kind of bear my child already is.