When I was growing up as a child in Canton another big part of the season was new clothes.
Back in those days we didn’t buy new clothes and shoes on a regular basis. There was back to school shopping and there was Easter shopping, and maybe a few visits to a store in between.
Easter was a time to get decked out for spring, and new shoes were a big part of that.
Going to Worley’s Shoes in downtown Canton meant new patent Mary Janes or pretty white shoes with a bow adorning them. Little white ankle socks completed the look and we children felt like we were really styling.
We even got a golden egg filled with little treats as a part of the shoe-buying process.
My mother’s holiday was not complete if we three children were not lined up in brand new clothes from head to toe as we walked out the door on Easter morning to First Baptist Church Canton.
My sister and I always had fluffy new dresses in pastel colors and a pretty hat and gloves. My brother would wear a little suit and tie with shiny clean saddle oxfords.
Earlier in the morning, like most children, we looked forward to jelly beans, candy eggs and all sorts of treats.
Back in those days at my house candy was not an everyday thing. Anything sweet was a treat.
If your parents went to Kessler’s Five and Dime in Canton and purchased a basket or a stuffed bunny, the morning was really exciting.
I noticed this year that toy stores are advertising on television for Easter sales, and recent data shows that in our country more than $17 billion will be spent on Easter this year.
But still, more than half of all Americans will go to church today to mark Easter.
As an adult, Easter means something entirely different to me. The days leading up to Easter mark a somber time of reflection and Good Friday is an especially dark day before the spiritual reawakening of Resurrection morning.
At our church on Maundy Thursday a cross is decorated with black strips of cloth, and then on Easter Sunday morning covered in flowers in a symbol of the beauty of the promise of the day.
While I am Baptist, I have watched with a certain awe the new pope. I think our world today is literally starved for some signs of God that are not tarnished by our culture.
As I read of how he washes the feet of sinners, I am reminded of my grandmother telling me of the foot washings she attended as a child.
I always thought that sounded horrible, to wash the feet of others in a show of humility. I wasn’t very humble, even as a child, and didn’t want to do anything resembling that type of activity.
My grandmother was a good woman who believed in Christ with all her heart, who read her Bible and meditated daily in prayer and reflection. She never preached to me, but she sent a quiet message of kindness and love, a message I wish I had listened more closely to as a young person.
She didn’t care too much about Easter bunnies, but more about the Easter message.
There are big sins, and there are little sins, and I have committed plenty of both, unfortunately, in my life. Even my best intentions sometimes lead me astray.
That is the beauty of the Easter message.
We can go astray and still receive forgiveness. Even those blackest sins can be washed clean by God in the message of the son he sent to save us from ourselves.
This year Easter came early, and spring has seemed to elude us as the date grew closer.
I have thought about the path it sometimes seems our world is on and wondered if God is withholding the warmth of his love.
But I know it is right there if I just look for it. It doesn’t take new clothes, or warm weather, or decorations. It just takes faith and love.
Rebecca Johnston is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.