Zak of All Trades: Easter is a time for blossoming hope

This weekend, we will celebrate what may just be one of my favorite holidays in Easter.

This week, we asked the children at Mapleview Elementary School what their favorite Easter tradition was, and so many of them had fun answers — from egg hunts to hunting real rabbits to planting jellybeans.

While planting jellybeans was not a tradition I grew up with — I love how much we learn from these Questions For Kids pieces — many of the other traditions that the children enjoyed were familiar to me and were ones that I grew up with.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to take part in an old-fashioned tradition that I hadn't done in years.

I was visiting with my grandma for one of our regular lunch meetings, when she asked how long it'd been since I'd colored Easter egg.

I honestly wasn't sure, as I can't remember exactly how long it's been — only that it's been quite some time. But she said that this year she had seen an egg-dyeing kit at the store for a dollar and thought, "Hey, why not?"

So, there we were. A 31-year-old and his grandmother coloring Easter eggs. And we sounded just like little kids. She and I were both excited about how bright the pastels were when we pulled them from the dye, just like we were when we were kids.

She and I both talked about what our favorite colors were and which colors deserved more than one egg, like we did when we were kids. And I even complained about the strong odor of the vinegar — one of my least-favorite scents — just like I did when I was a kid.

Enduring the vinegar smell was well worth it, though, as it was an enjoyable (and tasty, as I love hard-boiled eggs) trip down memory lane. I don't have any kids of my own, so a part of me has missed out on
carrying on the traditions that I've always associated with different holidays.

Christmas was always about gifts and the candle-light service at the Methodist church I grew up in. Still today, even though I'm a bit turned
off by the gift-giving focus on the holiday that means so much to me spiritually, I enjoy these traditions nonetheless.

Halloween was about dressing up in our scariest costumes — as a kid, I was typically a clown — and trudging door-to-door, begging strangers for candy. This one was a bit odder, as I wasn't usually a fan of dressing up or of talking to strangers in general. Oh, the things we'll do for candy.

New Year's Eve was about staying up late and sipping fake champagne, and New Year's Day — also my brother's birthday — was about family gathering together and enjoying a sauerkraut and hot dog meal.

Each holiday has always had its own traditional value in my mind, and that's part of what I've held on to all these years. So many things have changed.

And to be quite honest with you, I'm not that big of a fan of holidays anymore. They tend to be more hassle than they are worth sometimes. But for some reason, coloring Easter eggs takes me back — even if just for a few minutes — to the simpler times, the times when I counted down the days until the holiday.

As I said at the top of this column, Easter is still one of the holidays that I consider my favorite. I've added a few favorites to the list, too, including "yayday" since we interviewed some first graders a few weeks back and asked them to come up with their own holidays.

This Easter, I'll wake up early, like I always do. There won't be an Easter basket to search for, but that's OK. I'll settle for a hot pot of coffee brewing in my older age.

I'll go about my morning routine, but when it comes time to get dressed for church, I'll don a new, bright dress shirt (pastel, light blue this year) for the first time. Easter's sort-of the beginning of warmer days for me, and I like to celebrate it with a fun, warm color.

I'll attend two family dinners, eat plenty of ham — probably loosening the standards of my new diet just for the day — and help hide the eggs for the hunt that I've outgrown in grandma's backyard.

And all of those things are fun and good, but they aren't the reason Easter is my favorite holiday.

Another Easter tradition is packing into the pews at my church, which holds extra services on Easter Sunday to accommodate larger crowds, and hearing the message of hope that comes with the holiday.

The older I get, and the more crap I go through, the more I need the Easter message.

We all need a little bit of hope in our lives, and Easter brings it for me.

One of my favorite historical figures, Benjamin Franklin, is known to have said, "He who lives upon hope will die fasting."

Well, at least the Internet says that he said that. But I would argue with Mr. Franklin on this one. Perhaps he who lives upon hope alone will indeed die fasting.

But true hope, the hope that I get from the warmth of spring and the celebration of Easter, inspires action.

When it comes to this line of thinking, I lean a bit more toward agreement with Joseph Addison, who (according to the Internet, again)
said, "Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for."

I am blessed to have an abundance of things and people that fit into each of these three categories, and I hope that you do, too.

What I love the most about Easter is that it has this empowering
ability to wake me up, to make me smell the blooming flowers in the
air and to give me something hope for — both inside the walls of the church and outside.

And blossoming hope is a tradition worth hanging on to.

Zak Lantz is the editor of The Spirit, and he wants to wish you and your loved ones a happy, blessed Easter. May all of your traditions bring you fond memories and hope for many more.