By Lynda Hollenbeck
Today is Easter Sunday, a milestone for those of us who grew up in the church.
By "church," I don't mean the little Cumberland Presbyterian body that's a big part of my life and where I play the piano every Sunday. I mean the church at large, not any particular denomination.
Attendance in most congregations swells on this holiest of days, which is great. Better to go one day out of the year than none, though I've never understood why so many avoid corporate worship most of the other Sundays of the year.
I would say it has a lot to do with how you're raised, but that's not entirely true. Many who were brought up in church-going families drop the practice when they grow up and establish homes of their own. I always hope they'll come back one day.
A Lexington, Ky., pastor, noted that he doesn't in any way begrudge the Christmas and Easter crowds in his congregation. At least they're there, he said.
"They can't hear the good news of Christ's resurrection if they aren't within earshot. Who knows how God's spirit will work in them that day to bring them to a new level of commitment?"
This minister, like many, contends that God doesn't pay attention to attendance on Easter more closely than any other Sunday, but he believes that regular church attendance is an outward sign of an inward commitment made to be an active part of a particular congregation.
Personally, I believe that God wants us to commit with our hearts and live that out in our lives, including through our church attendance. This is a tenet that was ingrained in me deeply as a child.
In Lillie and Paul Parnell's household, you didn't miss church for any reason other than being too sick to lift your head off the pillow.
And there certainly wasn't going to be any miraculous recovery around 2 o'clock to release you from that state. That was Lillie's rule and it was binding.
As a little girl, Easter Sunday was exciting not just for the worshipful side of the day, including better than usual music, but there was also the fashion component, which I loved.
I know that everyone in the world didn't get a new outfit for Easter, but I will, somewhat sinfully, confess that everyone in my circle of friends did. It was exciting. Not that we didn't ever have new clothes at other times of the year, but Easter Sunday was the nearest thing we experienced to a fashion parade.
We weren't privileged to be marching with the elite in their Easter bonnets on Fifth Avenue in New York City, but we thought we were pretty spiffy showing off our finery at the Cotton Plant Methodist Church.
And of course this was the defining day that released us from shoe restrictions. While some die-hard purists claim you shouldn't wear white shoes till Memorial Day, in my part of the world the white shoes could come out on Easter Sunday morning.
Not a second before. This was an ironclad command issued by my dyed-in-the-wool Southern mother. She contended it would have been just too tacky to wear white shoes before that day. The only exception were Keds for P.E. and sporting events and those, of course, were not taking place on a Sunday.
That's another big change in society. I grew up in a day when few businesses opened on Sunday and sporting events were rare on that day. The major exceptions were restaurants that fed the church-going flocks after worship services and big-league baseball games.
It's interesting how one's priorities change. I don't get new Easter clothes as a rule now. I'd like to, but it just doesn't work out most of the time. I usually wear something colorful to mark the celebration, but I'm not hung up on the "new" aspect of my clothing. Since it's usually a long day with some sort of family or church dinner following the worship activities, I also go for comfort to a degree.
Still, I never wear white shoes before Easter — and usually not even then. As a rule, other colors work better with most things in my wardrobe. I'll pick taupe or a bone shade over white most of the time and black more often than any other color. But that's an individual preference.
Along with that bit of conformity, I won't wear white slacks or Capri pants until the spring/summer months.
A lot of the fashion rules have relaxed, particularly for today's young people. That's why I was taken aback during the dead of winter when granddaughter Hayley told me about a pair of new white slacks she was wearing.
"They're winter white," she explained before I could ever question the seasonal aspect of her attire.
I'm not aware of ever bringing up the wait-on-the-white-till-after-Easter edict with her.
It appears that the apple never falls too far from the tree.
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.