Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Have you ever wondered about the: Easter Dating Method? No, not how to find a sweetie to take to the egg hunt, but an explanation for why Easter always comes up on a different March or April Sunday. I have been trying to emphasize to the boys that they should search and research for the answers to all their questions, and I guess I should remember to do the same. Now I know it's about the moon, the Paschal full moon, and I now know that this year Easter comes on April 16th.
Holly may have a more precise count for how many years she and Rich have hosted Easter; they have had us in their home and garden for many Easters. They always have their home tastefully and sweetly decorated for the rite of Spring, and they always have a bounty of favors hidden in their yard. And in recent years Holly has cast-off her 'I can't cook cloak' and prepared an omelet buffet. Scrumptious. Fun for all. Why mess with perfection?
Well, for the past four years Max has struggled and suffered over Easter Sunday. Indeed, Max struggles with many things, particularly anything that involves change, leaving home, traditions, and social situations. He insists that we must celebrate Easter at home. He has begged, pleaded and insisted on this for four years, and every year we have resisted his demands. He has fun at aunt Holly and uncle Rich's. He has come to appreciate their celebration, the attention to bunny decor and Spring ambience. He likes Holly's pancakes and finding his basket in the backyard, but he still wants an at home Easter. How can I emphasize enough the genuine anguish and anxiety Max suffers over these situations? It's not like a bad mood or selfishness. It's Asperger's Syndrome. It's an imperative need to be in the most familiar space possible, to minimize variables, to understand every minutia, which takes step by step literal translating and repeated explaining. He isn't going to be dissuaded, or distracted. He can't be reasoned in to submission.
Last year Max spent several weeks, literally, agonizing over the issue of Easter. We insisted that the plans were made, and would not be changed. He cried. He had to be told many times, over many days where we were going, at what hour, for how long, who we would see, what we would do and in what order. He had to be assured that he would not have to eat certain things, wear anything other than his red shirt and blue shorts, and that it was not possible to simply change the plans. He has remarkable reasoning skills. In fact he is so rational that in a practical sense he is irrational. It takes extraordinary energy to hold my ground and assure him too, to diffuse his anger and frustration, and dispel his fears, which is why I gave in last year and promised him that this year we would host Easter.
Max reminded me, six weeks ago, about my promise: "Remember, you said we can have Easter at our house this time." He asks every few days whether it's time to get ready for Easter. And something else: He clings to tradition and patterns, and he is aware that he actually has more familiarity and comfort with Easter at his aunt's house and what transpires there, so he is in turmoil over whether we should go there or stay here, and if we stay here "can we do everything the same as at Holly's?"
The latest decision is to have Easter here, he feels certain. I am far less certain. "Where are our Easter decorations? Who's coming? What will we eat? When are we decorating for Easter?" These are the questions that Max poses with more and more frequency, urgency, concern. Relentless child. There are no Easter decorations, we had some, once, but they are lost in the moves, the garage. We can decorate for Easter after we've finished more packing, cleaned the clutter, put away the last of the Halloween decorations, clean again. Of course we'll need to buy some bunny bowls, tulip cups and an Easter tree first. And I can't help but feel a little remiss about the Omission: The meaning of Easter, the whole holy day, spiritual aspect. At this point in my life I am feeling far removed from resurrection, from Spring and rebirth, renewal. This must be another one of those maturity moments, an opportunity to model for my children the virtues of hope and optimism, to show them how to graciously prepare for a celebration, welcome friends and family, welcome a renewal and move forward in the great circle of life...
I am far, far removed. I think I will start with slow, regulated breathing. Thank God Easter isn't March 23rd like it will be in 2008.
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