“Jack, your shirt’s on backwards.”
“But I don’t like the buttons, Daddy, so I put them in the back.”
“Sorry son, that’s the just the way they go - in the front.”
I left Jack to struggle with his shirt so I could tie my tie.
“Honey,” my wife says, “remember that after church you need to help Ava hunt her first eggs.”
Ava is at that stage where there is really no hunt in egg hunt, it’s more of an egg collect.
As we pulled up to the church, I see her. It's Deborah the church lady. My wife shoots me an Oh God look with her eyes.
“Oh hi-i!” Deborah’s voice shakes when she talks. “I haven't se-en you gu-ys since Christmas!”
“I’ve missed you Miss Deborah,” Thank God I only have to deal with you twice a year, “Especially your singing!”
Deborah doesn’t really sing. It’s more of a screech.
I stopped to get some coffee and couldn’t help myself but get 9 donut holes. Some people gave me dirty looks as I filled up my coffee.
My wife was making small talk with the neighbors, so I decided to listen in on the conversation.
“Oh Sasha, I’m so excited for Lydia - it’s her first time hunting eggs!”
“I know right,” my wife responded, “it’ll be Ava’s first time, too!”
I look around for anyone I know. All I see are groups of old couples probably talking about golf and Wheel of Fortune. I join Sasha and the neighbors.
“...is going to help Ava hunt after the service,” she was saying, “-oh, speaking of the devil, here he is.”
I don’t think that’s something you should say in a church.
“Oh yeah! I can’t wait!” Yeah, I could. “I have great memories of hunting eggs.” Yeah, like my big brother shoving me into the mud to get Grandma’s “golden egg.”
We look around and realize people had started to migrate to the sanctuary, so we join. I look for the family spot, all I have to do was find the pew that doesn’t look very worn. I sit down, and my family follows my lead. The choir is singing an unrecognizable prelude in latin. Then a boy awkwardly stumbles to the pulpit with his mom. Everyone is silent and staring and the boy, and he’s acting like he sure knows it.
“Go ahead, honey,” his mom whispers to him.
“Deh-,” the boy stops, a little startled at how loud his voice came through the speakers, “deh angel said to deh woman, ‘Do not be afwaid, fo I know dat you aw looking fo Jesus, who was- who was- cruh”
“Crucified,” his mom corrects.
“Crucified. He is not heew, he is wesen, jus as he said.” He finishes, and smiles at his mom. They walk to their pew as the preacher walks up to the pulpit.
“Aren’t kids just a blessing,” he says softly, and the congregation echos with Amens. I look at Ava and Jack, who are kicking each other; yeah just a real blessing.
“Let us pray…” the preacher says, “Lord, today we have come together to worship you…”
I wonder if there’s lunch after church. If there isn’t we’ll have to go to that stinking Mexican restaurant. Then Sasha will make me share the triple cheese bean burrito. Then I’ll spend half the time in the bathroom. Then when I get out my family will be waiting for me and I’ll get asked the embarrassing question: “What took you so long?”
Back in the sanctuary, I hear a baby echoing the farts I had imagined at the Mexican restaurant. Why can’t his mom just take him out of the sanctuary, I don’t wanna hear that. All of the sudden, I hear the word that means “time to snap out of it, everyone’s eyes are about to open:”
“...amen,” finishes the preacher, “now open your hymnals to number 526, ‘Because He Lives.’”
Everyone reaches down in unison to get a hymnal.
“God sent His so-on,” I hear a ratchet screech behind me. I turn around to look as sneakily as possible and Miss Deborah smiles a wide, denture-full smile at me.
“They call him Jesus,” I try my best to awkwardly join in. My voice sounds low and monotonous. I can barely hear myself sing. A few thousand excruciating hours later, the song ends.
After the sermon, we all head out. Ava tugs at my hand and leads me to the easter egg hunt. A giant room is littered with eggs on the floor. She leads me around everywhere collecting chocolate and gum along the way. Ava stays until all the eggs have been found.
When we arrive home, Ava dumps her newfound treats on the living room floor. “I can’t wait to go to church next year!”
“I wish I could say the same,” I reply.
A Classic Easter Sunday
“Jack, your shirt’s on backwards.”