Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: Traditions keep us connected
April 25, 2011
Easter for my family has always been a favorite.
Easter means spring is in blossom and summer travel and warm nights are on the horizon.
But, most importantly, Easter in the Greek tradition means many nights spent in church, a fasting that teaches discipline, a lamb feast that gives reward and the most cherished and honored time of year.
Another reason why I love Easter is because of the home videos that come from the holiday, from the temper tantrums at ages 5 to 8 to which flower dress looked best on me to the egg cracking competitions between us siblings.
In fact, the best home videos always came from Holy Week.
When I was younger, Easter was my favorite holiday initially because of the malted robin eggs in my Easter basket, also a contribution to the hilarious home videos where my brothers would wrestle me for them.
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I would end up on the lesser end of the deal with chocolate all over my face, at least 10 robin eggs less and talked into a ride in the Radio Flyer down our street because of the beautiful weather.
In the end, I may have been a few robin eggs down and accumulated some stained spring dresses, but my brothers and I went to church and immediately bonded over our favorite traditions of our church.
Every Holy Week my parents would haul us kids to church Monday through Sunday, teaching both discipline and the gospels of our church.
Occasionally, especially on the Saturday midnight service, you could find us kids curled up in a ball, candle wax in our hair and sleeping under the pews.
Among the beautiful hymns and community that was established there, us kids were always a part of it, even if it was past our bedtime.
Each year this was our family's routine. Because of this, as we grow up, move to different cities and take on different lives, we always come back.
We come back to our tradition.
Now I see kids in their precious Easter dresses that probably took an hour to get on just right, from distractions of their plentiful Easter baskets, the ones learning their ways as alter boys and those sleeping in the pews.
I can't help but think about their potential and that with time, they too will come back to the tradition, even if their lives take them elsewhere.
Throughout the years, our traditions and family ties never cease to amaze me.
There we were, the kids who used to sleep underneath the pews and awake at the end of service to commence in our favorite activity of the cracking of the eggs.
Did we know what it all meant at the time?
For the most part, no, but being there year after year together in our small quaint and traditional church taught us something that couldn't be taught in a sermon.
It taught us that no matter your location, state of mind, schedule or lack of family, you can always find comfort, a sense of home and peace in those pews.
We are much taller, much older and much more independent now, and yet we will drive miles, stand for hours to be together and continue the tradition that our parents instilled in us from a young age.
Traditions keep us grounded while keeping us connected.