Easter Sunday was the first one with just the kids and me — our second since becoming a single-parent family because last year, my mom was with us.

Last year, we did things the way we had always done them … new shoes, new clothes, Easter eggs, Easter baskets, church, ham, potato salad, dessert … for as long as I can remember, this is how we celebrated Easter as a family. Those were our traditions.

This year I didn’t know what we’d do. With it being just us, I realized we could do anything! We didn’t have to do things the way we’d always done them. We could be open to new ideas and find something special in the celebration that was just for us.

When one member of a family leaves, for whatever reason, birthdays and holidays and special days for a long time afterward are tinged with the memory of “how we did things before.” And because of those memories, special days are often not the celebrations that they should be but are instead sad reminders of what (and who) is missing.

I’ve discovered that putting on a brave face and pretending it doesn’t matter — doing the same things the same ways as always — is not what is best for my little family.

We do need to remember the past, but at the same time, we (and I’m speaking for my family only) need to find a new way to celebrate.

While trying to decide what we would do this year, I kept the following things in mind:

  • What things about this holiday did we love to do together as a family?
  • Why did we love those things?
  • Were the traditions of our past central to what we wanted this day to be about? If not, do we really need to do them?
  • What do other families we know do? Is that something we would like to add to our traditions?
  • How could our family best honor God and the meaning of this day?

We decided that we would keep some of our traditions the same: new shoes, new clothes, Easter eggs, and church. However, we also decided to add some new things: reading The Jesus Story Book Bible the week before, creating a garden tomb centerpiece on Good Friday, opening Resurrection Eggs before church, and going on a picnic and flying a kite with a friend on Easter Sunday afternoon.

It was a beautiful day, a celebratory day — which is what Easter should be.

Best of all, we were able to focus more on the new beginnings God has for us … which is what Easter is all about.