To some people, Easter Sunday is a holy day. A time of religious rejoicing, spending time with the family and probably going to church at least once.
A bit like the Sainsbury’s Easter advert – I can’t help thinking that the man is going to run amok and slaughter his family now that he has found the hammer and screwdriver though.
To others. the day is a nuisance because all the big shops are shut, the TV is full of religious stuff, and everyone feels sick from eating far too many Easter eggs, bunnies, and anything else you can make out of chocolate – oh use your imagination – I’m trying to keep it clean here.
For me, religion is an extremely personal thing.
I respect the right of all other people to observe their own religions – and I expect them to respect my right to tell them to do one when they knock at my front door trying to co-opt me.
They must have all been busy today because I was blissfully undisturbed whilst munching on the chocolate bunny given to me by my Best Mate. I’m saving the giant Walnut Whip for tomorrow afternoon when Hub goes off to work.
We were regularly exposed to religion as children; the vicar had a goat that I was very attached to so going to Sunday School was never a chore. My Mum used to deliver the parish magazine and I can remember the front room being tidied because the vicar was coming round.
When I got older, a friend and I decided to sample the delights of different churches in our area.
Probably the best was the one with the swimming pool because they gave you 50p at Christmas and 50p on your birthday. Our attendance was short-lived; being January babies we joined in December and left in February. Discovering that the swimming pool was used to dunk people in whilst fully clothed was a bit of let down too. Okay, so we were mercenary but 50p bought a lot of sweets in those days.
Religious studies in senior school were an eye opener. We had two teachers: Reverend Double-Barrelled Surname (who had a very cute son) and Mr Groper, a lay preacher in more than one sense. Not surprisingly, I preferred the Rev’s lessons as he was rather sweet and could be easily diverted into telling proud stories about his son.
The Groper would work his way round the room massaging shoulders as he preached fire and brimstone about impure thoughts whilst trying to find out exactly what kind of thoughts we had been having – it was an all girls school so he had plenty of shoulders to grope. He only did it to me the once. I snarled at him and he gave me a very wide berth after that.
Someone complained (not me) and he was replaced by an earnest young lady fresh out of teacher training college who tried to get us to sing hand-clappy songs but had to stop when the grumpy human biology teacher next door complained about the noise (we were not singing nicely).
In my twenties I flirted with religion to the extent that I got confirmed and for a while, was the anarchic leader of the church youth club. Said youth club had been set up to occupy the time of the unruly choir, a rather wonderful bunch of teenagers whose company I found far more acceptable than some of the so-called Christians who’d push you out of the way in their haste to get communion before the wine ran out and had to be watered down and re-blessed.
The vicar and his sub were extremely nice people who were well aware that many of the congregation were less than Christian in their attitude. If I learned anything about Christian charity, it was from them, not from the bigoted family of churchwardens who looked down on anyone who didn’t conform to their norm.
As the worst member of this particular family was going down for communion one Sunday morning, a spotlight fell from the ceiling and JUST missed him. It may well have been an accident but I always felt that it was the old man up the lady flexing his muscle.
The vicar and his sub were also understanding when the youth club had a children’s tea party with jelly and ice-cream; a ham sandwich was found in a light-fitting some weeks later. Food Fight!
They had the common sense not to come over to the church hall on Sunday evenings expecting us to be involved in bible study; more often than not the lights would be dimmed and we would all be bopping around to ‘Rocking the Casbah’ or ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’. The bad taste Hallowe’en party at the Vicarage was perhaps pushing the boundaries a bit too far – especially when the head chorister turned up in a blood-stained loincloth as the Risen Christ.
Life moved me away from the church but the vicar’s sub got his own parish later and baptised both my boys.
For a while we did Midnight Communion at our local church because it made life more Christmassy; especially the late comers who had lurched over from the pub in search of forgiveness or a sip of wine.
When the boys reached school age we moved on to Christingles. Uni Boy quite enjoyed them but Gap Boy got told off because he started eating the dolly mixtures off his Christingle and wouldn’t blow his candle out when asked.
We made our own Christingles at home after that, and after extreme exposure to alternative religions at high school, both our boys are now decidedly atheist – but at least they are consistent in their attitude to religion.
I love old churches though.
I love the carved wood, the cool stone and the solace that can come from a brief moment of quiet contemplation.
Not all churches have it unfortunately, and I know as soon as I walk in the door whether that something special is there or not.
If not I beat a hasty retreat.
I suppose I must still be a bit religious because I still can’t get to sleep without saying the Lord’s Prayer to myself. It is a bit like a mantra that keeps my beloveds safe I suppose.
I must be growing up slightly however, because I still have three Easter Eggs left and two hot cross buns that I forgot to have for lunch.
Happy Easter – and it is wholly up to you how holy your celebration is – just keep your hands off my Easter Eggs.
I shall go back to being unwholly tomorrow when Hub and I join the Bank Holiday throngs to buy exciting things for our new kitchen – but more of that to follow.