Callie Thompson and her family have been “going” to church online in their pajamas for the past month. But on Sunday, they’ll be dressed up for Easter.
Thompson, 38, a burn and trauma surgeon in Nashville, doesn’t know quite what she’s wearing to watch her Methodist church service on YouTube, but it’s likely something pastel “because we’re in the South.”
Her four children, ages 2, 7, 9 and 13, will be dressed similarly.
Like her fellow Americans, Thompson, has been reconfiguring daily life for the past several weeks during the coronavirus lockdown. In addition to her work for the Vanderbilt University hospital system, religious holidays and rituals are also being tweaked.
Earlier this week, she served Communion for her family during their online Maundy Thursday service. Their church uses King’s Hawaiian bread for Communion, rather than the traditional dry Communion wafer. Her husband was less than pleased with what he called an uneven distribution.
If you’re up for it, celebrating milestones, holidays, and other events can be important and uplifting — especially so — right now. Even if substitutions are made, or decor, food or celebrations have to be MacGyvered, it can be a nicer-than-expected treat or anchor for these uncertain times.
“It’s really important to us to celebrate holidays like Easter to give us and the kids a sense of normalcy,” stylist and lifestyle blogger Emily Henderson said. “Also, it’s so nice to have something to get excited about.”
“Our kids are young and while they know things aren’t normal, it’s our job to still create happiness whenever we can. So making sure that we are still celebrating our holidays is a no-brainer way to do that, even if it looks different and ‘less perfect’ than past years,” Henderson said.
In fact, she dedicated a very thorough blog post to how she’ll be celebrating Easter with her family of four. As a designer whose career is devoted to making things look pretty, she’s got more supplies than most of us have at the ready. Still, there are some tips for amateurs.
“Let me just say that if it doesn’t bring you joy and only stress, please forego decorating and skip to ‘what to eat and drink’ section. I obviously love it and forcing my children and husband to try DIYs in the name of ‘memory making’ that are far above their skill level and subsequently turn out truly ugly, is one of the joys of my life,” Henderson wrote on her blog. “We are going to attempt some stuff in the name of making memories — but only with what we already have (and hopefully, you do too).”
Her suggestions include: an Easter tree or branch to house decorated eggs, an Easter egg or scavenger hunt, streaming an Easter service or movie, or reading a book about the Easter story, and ways to give back to the community.
Many American Jews celebrated Passover with Seders on the first or second night of the eight-day holiday over Zoom this year.
Some made room for the prophet Elijah to attend the gathering by placing an empty chair at the table, or creating a burner Elijah account.
Holy days don’t have to be so heavy in these times — Wrinkler has enlisted talent including Bette Midler, Sarah Silverman, Idina Menzel, Judith Light and “Schitt’s Creek” star Dan Levy.
No matter what you’re celebrating in these times, flexibility is key.
Megan Sass, a New York-based teacher and comedian was involved with two Zoom Seders on Wednesday night. She performed music for a local Jewish community center and led a second one for her family.
“If you have pets, expect that they may make appearances. No one will be annoyed. If anything, bait your pets into making an appearance. Pets on camera are more interesting than people,” Sass wrote in a message.
She also noted that virtual hosting can actually create a more memorable gathering than an IRL one.
“People from all over can attend. Normally, parties in NYC are limited to, well, people in NYC. But this year for Passover, my friends and family in New York City, Long Island, Jersey, San Francisco, and Los Angeles were all able to join together. That’s rare, and I think it’s something to be appreciated and celebrated. It’s a group that would never have been all together otherwise.”