Easter in the Time of COVID-19

Time for another look at a Markel Family holiday in the time of COVID-19!

Last year, I was all about keeping as many things as normal as possible for everyone. This year, I decided to embrace the new and different as much as I could. For starters, even though I’m now back to grocery shopping once a week instead of every two weeks, and could have bought hot cross buns from the bakery, I decided to make a batch again this year:

We went to our new church for the evening Maundy Thursday service to begin the Holy Triduum, and it was short, but very nice:

On Good Friday we were back at our new church for an equally moving (and equally short) Tenebrae service:

On Holy Saturday, we watched Rick Steves’ European Easter and made our Paschal candle for the year, as is our tradition. This one didn’t turn out so well, but it still gets the job done!

We attended the Great Vigil of Easter at our new church…I’m so glad they offer that service. More of it was spent outside than we are used to, and that was really nice!

After church, instead of getting sundaes from McDonald’s like we usually do, we got Frosty’s and fries at Wendy’s, and I introduced the Fab Five to the culinary experience that is dipping the fries in the Frosty:

We didn’t have a sunrise service this year, but I was still up early enough to see the sunrise:

And even though we didn’t need to leave the house super-early, I still bought our traditional Pop-Tarts:

It was a beautiful morning!

I took pictures of the Fab Five in the garden outside of church:

Since I couldn’t really take pictures of them inside the church (and especially by the baptismal font) like I usually do, I did that the day of Chickadee’s confirmation:

Our new church is beautiful!

After church, we came home and made Easter breakfast…eggs and sausage, English muffins, pomegranate juice, and every flavor of mini donut I could find…seven varieties. Maybe we’ll be able to go to Easter breakfast at church again in the future, but for now, it’s nice to have the meal at home!

I may have completed all of the Bunny Day goals in Animal Crossing: New Horizons last year, but I still checked in with Zipper T. Bunny:

We had fun watching some of our favorite Easter movies today, including My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, Easter Parade, and It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. While we did that, I made sure the table looked pretty for dinner:

And made our Easter feast for dinner. I tried a new leg of lamb recipe in the crock-pot, which was both amazingly delicious and easy. We also had Greek potatoes, carrot fritters, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, breaded artichokes, cherry Jell-O, and popovers:

For dessert, I made carrot cake Oreo truffles:

No matter what stays the same or what is different from year to year, our reason for celebrating remains constant. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!!!

A Markel Family Easter, Isolation Edition

I think we can all agree that Easter was weird this year, right? Without our normal church commitments like choir, acolyting, and serving on altar guild, Holy Week and Easter Sunday fell a bit flat. But whether we were at church or not, we still had reason to celebrate, so I tried to make this time at home as special as possible.

On Maundy Thursday, we enjoyed some beautiful weather while we were out for a walk in our neighborhood before we “went” to church, which we watched from the comfort of our living room.

We were a little busier on Good Friday, with some baking (including homemade hot cross buns for the first time!), and another walk, before we once again watched the church service from our living room.

We were especially busy on Holy Saturday. We did some more baking, including these amazing rosemary dinner rolls, one of my favorite new recipes that I’ve tried:

We also made our new Paschal Candle for the year, as we usually do on Holy Saturday…it was disappointing not being able to take it to the Easter Vigil, though!

We had a fairly last-minute change of Easter dinner plans, because Beast Craft BBQ announced that they were going to be selling hams, so Ryan went and picked that up Saturday afternoon. It smelled amazing, and there was great restraint on the part of everyone in the house, because we left it alone until Easter dinner!

I dug out some extra candles so we could really feel like we were participating in the Great Vigil of Easter:

But once again from our living room:

We always get hot fudge sundaes at McDonald’s on the way home from the service, so I tried to recreate that experience, as well:

We didn’t “need” Pop-Tarts for breakfast this year (do you ever really need Pop-Tarts?),, because we didn’t have to get up as early for the sunrise service, but tradition is tradition!

I was very happy to get to sing my favorite Easter hymn at the first service, which we attended from, you guessed it, our living room!

We always have Easter breakfast at church between services, so I tried to replicate that experience, too. Homemade biscuits and sausage gravy were the star of the meal (both of which I prepared on Saturday), because that’s what they serve at church, plus sausage patties, eggs, orange juice, and mini donuts:

I always take pictures after breakfast, and this year was no different. Yes, we all got dressed up, even though we were at home!

I really missed taking photos of the children by the baptismal font, but at least I got pictures of them on Easter, right?

I already shared the details of my Easter outfit, but here’s one more picture, with Ladybug, because this was her first occasion to wear a dress from Pinup Girl Clothing!

Back inside, and back to the living room for the second service, where we sang another favorite hymn:

The church part of the day was over much quicker than usual, which was sad. I did have plenty of time to prepare our Easter dinner, though, starting with setting the table with our china and spring table linens:

On the menu: ham, mashed potatoes, a trio of green vegetables (Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and green beans with almonds), cherry Jell-O, and rosemary dinner rolls. It was a delicious meal!

For dessert I made the same lemon cheesecake with lemon-rosemary shortbread crust that I made last year:

We’re not done, yet, though! Since Easter is a celebration that keeps on going, and since our dinner plans had changed after I had already bought what was supposed to be the main course of Easter dinner, we had another special meal tonight…rack of lamb with some new sides (roast potatoes and cauliflower), plus some repeats (Brussels sprouts, green beans, Jell-O, and rolls), plus more cheesecake for dessert!

So there you have what was the strangest Easter I have ever experienced. Of course, our reason for celebrating never changes, but just the same, nothing felt quite right, and I truly hope we never have another Easter like it!

Making the Paschal Candle

I’ve mentioned before that every year on Holy Saturday, we make a new Paschal candle from a candle kit. I thought that this year, I’d show the whole process, from wax sheets to finished product!

The candle began as a wick and several sheets of beeswax. The wax was slowly heated with a hair dryer, and then rolled around the wick. There are enough pieces of wax that all the children were able to have a turn, even Chickadee!

We actually made the candle itself a few weeks ago. but the decorative part of the candle-making process we saved for today, as we do every year. Bunny wrapped the gold cord around the bottom of the candle, Turkey handled the decorative transfers, Moose placed the “nails,” and Ladybug glued the gems on each nail.

After the Great Vigil of Easter, it is always Ryan’s job to bless the candle before we light it for the first time:

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I think the finished product is quite lovely:

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We leave the Paschal candle on our dining table throughout the season of Easter, and then it’s moved upstairs to the school room, where it resides near our church year banner. It will make a return to the table during the season of Advent, however, when we will anticipate lighting it again after the church service on Christmas Eve!

Church and Home

I’m always looking for ways to bring a bit of church into our home, to serve as reminders throughout the week of the things we see on Sundays. Here are a few of the more obvious parallels between our church and our home.

Alleluia Banners–This was the most intentional thing I did to bring a bit of church to our home. I tried to replicate the church “Alleluia Banner,” both in color and in font. I think I did a pretty good job, too!

Paschal Candle–A new activity for us this year, I really like the addition of a Paschal Candle to our home. It’s very similar to the church Paschal Candle in some ways, too.

White Paraments/Banner–This isn’t a direct parallel, but both are white banners with gold adornments, and both have a similar crown. It’s definitely the most subtle of my attempts, but the thought is still there!

An Activity for Holy Saturday

I have long been frustrated in trying to find appropriate activities for Lent and Holy Week, because while it’s easy to find Easter activities  Lent-only activities are a bit tougher, and I refuse to rush into Easter before Easter. When I saw this Paschal Candle kit, I realized that it’s the perfect activity for Holy Saturday, as many churches dedicate their new Paschal Candles at the Great Vigil of Easter on Holy Saturday night.

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The children had a lot of fun rolling the sheets of beeswax to make the candle, and then decorating it with the included gold cord, decals and gems. I think the detail on it is quite pretty:

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Ryan dedicated it in a way very similar to how is done at church:

Christ Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever, the beginning and the ending, the Alpha and the Omega.
His are time and eternity, His are the glory and dominion, now and forever.
By His wounds we have healing both now and forever. Amen.

It was ready for us to light when we got home from church tonight, when Ryan finished the dedication:

May the light of Christ, who is risen in glory from the dead, scatter all the darkness of our hearts and mind.

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We’ll light it again tomorrow night at dinner, and probably also on Pentecost. I think after that, I’m going to save it, because I’m especially looking forward to using it as the centerpiece of our Advent wreath this fall. I’m pretty sure that this will become a new yearly tradition!