Holidays are funny. Growing up, you can never imagine doing them any way other than what your family does. To me, Easter means waking up, baskets, finding eggs, a special breakfast with specific biscuits (Grands Flaky!), bacon, mimosas when you get older. It means second service of church, and then a quick nap before all the family gets together for the only piece of ham you eat all year, and endless egg-hiding and collecting for the younger ones, remembering to count how many go out and how many come in, so that you don’t repeat another “rotten egg found in the linen closet five months later” incident.
You eat specific foods, wear a sort of dress code, watch something particular on TV. You might have a kids table and a grown ups table. Maybe you and your cousins all gather in the gameroom upstairs to play Rock Band or Wii for hours, or you all get the dogs to take a big walk of the neighborhood to make more room in your stomach for more food (this is science) because really the holidays of any kind are about eating.
There’s usually the dreaded family photo. Our dad had a camera and tripod that was always dragged out for big holidays and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but we love those photos now. Our grandpa was the first to have a digital camera that I can remember, but has also always been the only person on the planet to never give a countdown of when he’s taking a photo, and someone manages to always capture everyone at their worst in every photo.
So one of the beautiful and crazy things about living abroad is finding your community, finding your family here. I’m lucky because I teach at a Christian school, and we all come from really different backgrounds, so I get to experience the same things I want to celebrate in a bunch of different ways, with different foods and traditions.
And especially living in a pretty Catholic country, where we get Good Friday off, everyone seemed to be in an extra good mood because we’d had extended weekend with some beach time. (I’m going to pretend lesson plans write themselves as I write this post.)
At school on Thursday we had an egg hunt for the little kids, and tried to squeeze in a lesson on the Gospel as they sat patiently on the bench, with colorful eggs within plain sight, asking what happened to Jesus on Easter. “He beed dead! He got whipped! Now he lives in the sky-yyyyyy.” With responses like that, all you can do is nod, try to hide your laughter, and release them to hunt down eggs.
Today after international church we celebrated with a hodge podge of dishes…I was so happy to eat some ham, and then everything else was different than I would have had at home. I brought a super grown up salad made of spinach, onions, bacon bits, and feta cheese. I even posted a pic on social media of the bacon bits to give myself accountability that the same amount of bacon bits would survive my sampling to see themselves at Easter brunch. I also made croutons, but that’s because Brazil doesn’t have croutons, which honestly is the strongest argument I can make against permanent residency here.
We ended the day playing cards, heckling each other, sweating the constant sweat that is living in Brazil (bikram Easter), excited about ice cream because it’s expensive here so we don’t eat it very much. And I don’t pretend to understand everything about what Jesus did for me and all of us, but I have to think he would have sat in our international circle, smelling like frankincense and myrrh, helping us tease each other, helping us make up weird rules to a card game, making sure everyone got a taste of the apple crumble cake, and look out for each other.
As I bite off the ears of another chocolate bunny (rooted in pagan traditions of a fertility celebration as we head into mating seasons for animals! this holiday is cray!), as I sway in my hammock and watch a massive thunderstorm swipe away all evidence of how beautiful it’s been this weekend, as I think about what this holiday means to me personally, I’m really thankful to get to love as much as I can love. And thankful for friends I can call “family” as I live in a place I’m settling in to call “home.”
Feliz Páscoa, meus amigos!