I love spring. Spring features some of my favorite things: warm, not scorching sunlight; cooling breezes; flowers; multiple academic breaks, and holidays that celebrate life and freedom.
When I was a child, my mother, stepfather, and I celebrated Easter in a not-very-religious way. My mother wasn't religious; I wasn't even baptized or christened. (I still haven't been; I have no religion.) My stepfather--and before him, my adoptive father--is Catholic, so I'd get dressed in a flowery Sunday dress and my mother would bedeck my hair with ribbons and go to church with him (and, sometimes, my mother, if she felt like it). Inevitably, I'd fall asleep with a mouthful of jellybeans, my head on a parent's lap.
When I was a teenager and my grandmother got (mildly) religious and started attending a Methodist church, I stayed awake by daydreaming about vampires and romance throughout the service.
Sometime late in high school, I managed to get out of going to church on Easter. I wanted to focus on the food (HAM) and family part afterward. Before my grandmother got sick, we gathered and ate in the dining room--with overflow cousins and kids in the kitchen and in the den--and took naps in various parts of the house. I loved the slipperiness of my stockinged feet in my Mary Janes, the crispness of my dress, the fluffiness of my hair freed from its customary pigtails.
I love those things still. I still dress fancy for Easter, even though I don't go to church.
My friend M. invites friends over to her house for Passover every year. She and her mother make all the food and set the table with bitter herbs, charoset, horseradish, all manner of other food, Manischewitz, packets containing prayers, songs, and the story of Pesach, and all other necessary items. We go through the ritual every year, laughing together, getting full, getting tipsy, the youngest of us looking for the afikomen, getting sleepy. I love how happy and convivial everyone is at M.'s seder.
I also love how the seder follows a set pattern. Despite the general levity at her seder (because what do you expect from a bunch of theatre people and lit nerds?), there is a sense of seriousness about it all. I feel the most uplifted at M.'s seders than I ever did at church. Is it the people involved? Is it the ceremony? What is it?
I'm sad that I missed it this year. I missed all the holiday celebrations because I've been having a disgusting upper respiratory thing...because I fall ill the second I go on break. Next year, then. In the meantime, I'll celebrate spring on my own.