This is our second Easter under COVID restrictions, but compared to last spring, things are looking more hopeful, and some restrictions are easing up. Last year Easter fell just a little more than a month after we’d entered widespread shutdowns, and our understanding of the virus was limited and the future looked uncertain and quite bleak. What normally is a season of great hope and new life felt drained of joy and rebirth. The traditional Holy Week and Easter services had to be streamed and viewed remotely, and all sorts of community events like Easter egg hunts were cancelled.
Over the course of this past year, people have learned to be creative in finding ways to celebrate traditional holidays and special events while following health directives to tamp down the spread of the pandemic. Here in my Southern Oregon town of Central Point, we are blessed to have some committed and clever individuals who’ve taken it upon themselves (with support from city government and local businesses and average citizens) to spread joy throughout our neighborhoods. These include a roving car show on Mother’s Day weekend, an all-on-wheels graduation celebration, a “bear hunt” for kids, a trunk-or-treat Halloween candy giveaway and drive-in movie nights.
This spring the expanding availability of vaccines, a greater understanding of the virus and adaptations for living with health protocols have brightened our future outlook and broadened current horizons. Many churches (mine among them) are able to offer in-person services while still offering the option of viewing them online, and multigenerational families with vaccinated seniors may feel they can safely celebrate holidays together again. And while my town’s traditional egg hunt will not be held, there will be civic activities sure to please old and young alike.
More than a month ago, Debbie Saxbury, who operates a “What’s Happening” Facebook page for our community, requested that folks paint rocks with seasonal messages and motifs in bright spring colors.
These rocks should then be hidden in local parks for children to hunt on this Saturday, April 3. The call saw families, individuals, Cub Scouts and various groups get out brushes and paints to decorate hundreds of stones with chicks, bunnies, flowers and eggs. The first-grade teachers at my grandson’s elementary school jumped on board, and with in-person learning starting up on a limited basis recently, they saw this as a great activity their students could enjoy together. Last week the kids each painted two eggs, and at the end of this week the classes got to go on a field trip to the park where the main hunt would be held. (It is within walking distance of the school.) There was such joy felt by the teachers, students, parents and community to see such a “normal” activity as a field trip (on two of the most perfect spring days one could hope for) occurring after such a long and difficult year.
Today is the day, and I have no doubt that there will be kids and their families at every park in town searching for those colorful Easter rocks, with each child encouraged to take home just one rock so that everyone will have the chance to find one. In addition, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department will host an Easter Eggstravaganza at a city park, with goodie bags handed out to children by the Easter bunny in a drive-through event. I am so grateful for the generous souls in my community who think up and support these events. These have been the silver linings in a very trying time and permit goodness to shine in a dark time.
Happy spring, everyone!
— Patty Vanikiotis, associate editor/copy editor
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