Chocolate, church and the best/worst time of the year

It’s that time of year again. The grass is green, the pollen is out and soon my apartment complex will be scheduling all landscaping on my days off so that those mornings are filled with the melodious sounds of lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and weed eaters. I’ve never considered that the shrubbery beneath my bedroom window was particularly out of control, but judging from the amount of time and noise devoted to them, they must look like a hot mess from a professional point of view. It is the time when we voluntarily relinquish an hour of sleep so our ancestors can save money on candles. Most importantly, though, it is a time we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus by dressing up in the most uncomfortable clothes money can buy and finding eggs hidden by a bunny. It seems Jesus is always the reason for the season even when he isn’t.

My love and loathing for Easter go all the way back to when I was old enough to successfully hide from my mom and whatever dress she was trying to stuff me into that year. We drove off to my grandmother’s church where my brother and I were herded into wooden pews, condemned to spend the next hour and a half counting the panes in the stained glass windows. It was easily the most boring morning of the year.

The real Easter was at my other, less pious grandmother’s house. The real Easter was about finding eggs with my cousins, stuffing my face with obscene amounts of chocolate and then throwing it up on the back seat of my dad’s Toyota Camry. Now that was an Easter I could get behind! Ask any kid if they would rather have a basketful of chocolate to puke up later or have to sit in church all morning and they will go with the candy every time. So, very early on, Easter became a holiday where I had to do stuff that I generally despised to get to the good stuff at the end. Now that I’m older and understand things a bit more I have discovered that Easter is a holiday where I get to do a bunch of stuff I hate only with 99 percent less candy involved and little to no vomiting.

In Galatians, Paul refers to the law (or religion) as a “yoke of slavery” and warns his readers to not allow themselves to be burdened with it again, yet here we are. We celebrate our freedom by donning the shackles of religion in order to prove our devotion. Most of us do it because that is what we feel we should do, but there is irony in observing the event of Christ’s resurrection through a systematic observation of rules. We traded sacrificial lambs for nice clothes and church pews. The result is still the same.

The beauty of Easter is that we don’t have to sprinkle the blood of an animal on an altar to be forgiven for our sins. The point we seem to miss, however, is that we don’t have to wear a suit and tie or a dress and heels or file into church pews, either. We don’t have to give the right amount of money or sing the right words, or even sing the right words well. That is the message of Easter. Regardless of why we observe the holiday, be it the resurrection of Christ or simply the celebration of life, we can do it without reservation, rites or rules. There is nothing we must do but if you must do something this year, I suggest stocking up on the chocolate.