"He is risen."
"He is risen, indeed!"
Christians all over the world will be greeting one another with the above statement and response today. I used to have a record - raise your hand if you remember phonograph records - with a wonderful Easter song that delivered that very message. Terri Hubbard (now Cooper) was the artist and I played that album, literally, until the grooves wore off. I keep waiting for the CD to be released, but so far to no avail.
I suppose there are still families who hold fast to Easter traditions, much as most of us do at Christmas time, but I have a sneaky suspicion that for most of us today will be much different from earlier Easters. I know it will be at my house.
For instance, there will be no frilly new dresses spread out to be put on for the first time, and no ruffled petticoats and no patent leather shoes. And no Easter bonnets, with or without frills upon it, although my oldest child, Jamie Leigh, who admires hats, would still love to have a new one.
I bet Pat Mann has a new Easter bonnet, but I doubt that I know anyone else who does.
There aren't any dime stores around that I know anything about, but if there were I doubt that they would sell many Easter baskets, either. I haven't set one out for my kids in years - although I will spread a little plastic grass around on the table and scatter a few jelly beans and malted milk eggs, along with a chocolate bunny for each of our "children."
I'll eat the jelly beans and malted milk eggs myself. The chocolate rabbits will melt or grow stale in their respective rooms until their mother throws them away sometime around the Fourth of July - but there are still a few traditions that I will hold onto.
We haven't had a Paas egg-dying kit in our house in years, but I hope some folks somewhere still decorate hard-boiled eggs in the name of Easter, just for old times' sake. We will, I hope, have plenty of deviled eggs for dinner, after church, along with ham and potato salad and green beans. I will eat anything that is put on the table the other 51 Sundays of the year, but on Easter Sunday I want deviled eggs and ham and potato salad and green beans.
I probably will not have attended sunrise service today, although I know there are still many available. As I have said many times in this medium - usually around this time of year - I used to attend the one at Julia A. Porter UMC every year with Mae Hardman and Annie Lee Day, and Iris Standard always delivered the message. Later on I would find others to attend. One year Easter occurred during a cold snap - must have been blackberry winter - and Jamie and I almost froze listening to Terry Walton preach from the back of a pickup truck in the Ebenezer UMC parking lot.
At least Easter hasn't been commercialized to death like Christmas, although I did see kids lined up to have their pictures made with the Easter Bunny at the Brunswick Mall this week.
Something else that has changed is that my family travels a lot at Easter. I wouldn't dream of spending Christmas away from home, but have celebrated Easter in Austin, Texas, Lexington, Ky., Melbourne, Fla., St. Pete Beach - and I can't count the number of times I have awakened on Easter Sunday in a tent - or camper - on Jekyll Island.
But today I will have awakened in my own bed in my own home, with all three children making a rare appearance at the old domicile. None of us will have new clothes, but we'll all attend church together and we will all worship the same Savior whose resurrection we celebrate - as people have been doing for more than 2,000 years. That's kind of comforting, isn't it?
Annie Lee Day and Iris Standard are celebrating Easter in heaven today. I am as certain of that as I am of my own existence. Mae Hardman will be celebrating in the mountains of North Georgia, as she has for the past 40 years or so.
And I am guessing that Terri Cooper Hubbard will worship at her own church in Jacksonville, Fla. I wonder if she plays her own rendition of the Easter Song this time of year - or maybe her album has worn out, too. I wonder if she just sings the song to herself. And I wonder if she is even remotely aware of the positive impact she has had on my life.
When you get right down to it, of course, the clothes don't matter and the toys and candy and colored eggs don't matter and the dinner menu doesn't matter, either.
The memories and the friendships? Now those do matter. There will come a day when our memories are the only real treasures we have left. And that message - it matters, too. I believe our eternity hinges on it, but that's just me.
Christ is risen.
He is risen, indeed!
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.