When I was around nine, my parents decided to attend services at a variety of churches and dabbled in an even wider variety of faiths. We checked out Christianity, Catholicism (distinguish from Christianity), Judaism, Buddhism, Native American beliefs and so on; but the one that got stuck in my mind? Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It stuck because I was a kid and holidays were awesome, and Jehova’s Witnesses don’t celebrate much. A week before Easter we went to their version of mass. It was so boring I thought I might die. It was so lengthy even my parents started to fidget. Never mind my five-year-old brother crawling under our bench.
God seemingly took a back seat. The Bible and its teachings were all that mattered and Jesus rarely entered the room. Easter and Passover were mentioned as examples of ritualistic traditions that shouldn’t be acknowledged, and on and on it went.
After an hour we were allowed to leave, and we went about our agnostic lives except for the dreams. Those awful dreams.
I dreamed there was an Easter tree in our living room. It was fully flocked in whitish pink and wrapped in spun glass known as angel hair. Hiding in the branches were eggs and candies, and I wanted at that thing so bad!
“No,” said my mother, who then called to my father to help her throw it away. “We are Jehovah’s Witnesses and we don’t celebrate Easter.”
How unfair. Poor other Jehovah’s Witness kids, and their pragmatic parents, who were so deprived of the joy’s of holidays. It didn’t occur to me that there is something beyond the trappings. For many it is the essence of their beings. The external is trivial, gifts are unnecessary, indulgence isn’t divine and as long as you’re a good person of some sort that’s all that matters.
I pinched myself awake Easter morning and ran for the living room. There was a note on the hallway wall telling me to go to the front door, and taped to the door was another note: “Open slowly.”
There it was. A huge basket filled with eggs, Peeps, fake grass, cards for my brother and I and one massive chocolate bunny. Hooray for heathenism!