I grew up not believing in the Easter Bunny. I grew up not believing in Santa. I grew up not believing in any of the things kids then and now to this day grow up having. That was just how it was.
Easter was about Jesus. Christmas was about Jesus. October 31st was “Satan’s Birthday” and I wasn’t allowed to participate in Halloween (my first Halloween was literally at 21). These are things I grew up ‘believing’ for lack of a better term. Not a holiday went by in my household that wasn’t about Jesus or the so-called Christian faith.
Easter growing up was always church first, then come home and do your gifts, dinner at whoever’s house, and that was it. You dressed up twenty times more than usual if that was even humanly possible, and you sat through the same exact Easter Sunday lesson as last year’s. And the year before that and the year before that and the year . . .
Every year, I think that holidays will be easier. I have a wonderful boyfriend with a family who does like me, amazing friends that I have made in the last year that have become my family, and so on. I don’t have the perfect life, but it’s good enough for me, no matter how badly I want to turn around and run. It doesn’t matter how big or small the holiday is. Each year when holidays come around, I hope that it’ll get just a little bit easier each time. Suffice to say that it has been, most years, but there’s still always that little . . . flicker. It’s like a light switch in the back of my brain. Sometimes it goes up. Sometimes it stays down. Sometimes it rapidly changes throughout the day.
Halloween used to be the worst. It’s my favorite holiday now because I am 100% gothy punk rock. Halloween is just my absolute aesthetic and I love everything about it. Up until I got with my boyfriend, I loved it subtly. After being with him for so long and seeing just how not-fucking-horrible Halloween was, I’m proud enough to say how much it’s become a favorite. But each year as it comes around, there’s still issues with my light switch. It’s gotten better as time went on but. It’s hard to keep it facing down most times.
Easter and Christmas are by no means any different. Seeing as how both of these holidays are centered around Jesus and Christianity. Of any branch. But the branch I grew up with and in is just . . . . so toxic. It’s so bad that it’s going to take me probably the rest of my life or at the very least ten to twenty years to repair. I may have a working light switch on one side of my brain, but on the other it’s totally smashed to pieces. You know that video of Chris Pratt goofing up on the set of Parks & Rec where he throws the briefcase over a desk and at a light? Then it smashes and everything turns off? That’s the other side of my brain when it comes to Their “religion” and certain holidays.
This Easter is no different with that. However, it is different in setting and it’s a setting I could not be happier with. My current roommates are all out with their families. And while at first I had that tiny, burning pang of jealousy in my chest, (because heck, they actually have parents and relatives who fucking love them and give a shit about them. ) it soon went away when I realized what a better Easter I would have with just me and my boyfriend. Me, him, my cat Dylan, and my one roommate’s kitties. Sure, I could sit here and wonder all day about Them and Their plans and Their dinner. But it’s not going to help me at all. And it’s not going to fix the one light switch or turn off or on the other.
By all means, I do not mean to judge harshly on those who do celebrate Easter with a religion. But you have to understand my way about it, too. I was holed up in the house as a child because of it. I went to church every single frickin’ Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday nights. I was told what to do. What not to do. Who I talked to was either wrong or right. Only certain holidays were allowed. Santa, the Easter Bunny, all those childhood things were just not things I grew up with. I never went out on Halloween, but instead sat in a dark house with the TVs on low and do not answer the doors or make a sound. Make sure it seems like we aren’t home. Either that, or we (again) went to church for the “alternative” to Halloween (aka: Harvest Parties). I did not have the childhood everyone else did, both being a child of religious upbringing (toxic, mind you), and being hospitalized almost every week.
If you celebrate Easter with faith, then by all means. That’s perfectly okay!!! But don’t forget that there are people out here who are adults now who may have not had the joys of Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, etc in their childhoods. And if you celebrate Easter or Christmas with a religion AND the cute fantasy tales, then my god! That’s so cool! Because in my life, it was one or the other. I would hear constantly in services that “Yeah the Easter Bunny (or) Santa is fun for the kids and all that but it’s not about that! It’s about Jesus/God. That’s what it really is.” It was like . . . like you weren’t allowed to have fun with the amazing fantasy fun idea of the holidays that come around. You had to pick.
The egg or the cross?
The nativity or the reindeer?
The dark house or the church harvest parties?
Maybe I didn’t have a terrible childhood/upbringing. But it sure as fuck has been damaging. The more I think back on it and the older I get. The more disdain I get for being transgender and an active LGBTQ community member. The more hurt I get, the more mouth I hear . . . the more it comes around from not only my own head, but from experiencing and hearing it from people around me who still are around Them. It’s more than enough to say the upbringing was toxic and mentally abusive, if not also emotionally. And not just for the sake of holidays/religion. In so many more ways than one.
But for holidays especially, for me, it’s a project. I’m grateful enough to be away from That and have my boyfriend here this year in a house that I feel safe and 100% loved in. Where I don’t have to question what I’m going to be called today. Where I know what my pronouns are and I will hear them. Where I know people truly do care for me, about me, and love me for every single piece of me. No matter how I dress, how I speak, what I talk about, where I go, and so on.
It’s going to take me a while to sift through all the drama and heartache from Them. Holidays, especially. Most days I wish I could keep the light switch facing down, or attempt to tape up the busted Chris Pratt one. But I know it’s going to take time and I’m grateful for having a wonderful therapist so far.
As you celebrate this Easter Sunday, please remember. It’s okay for others to feel and be hurt. It’s okay if they don’t want to go to dinner for whatever reason. It’s okay if they don’t feel safe. It’s okay if they completely hate the idea of Easter altogether. Whatever their reasons, please do respect and love them. It may not be what you think, and you may just need to talk about it or seek alternatives. Remember some of us who had a toxic religious upbringing who may either despise certain holidays, or chose to go about it in a different way in order to feel relief.
That being said, I hope that everyone has a safe and happy Easter. Whether you believe in the Easter Bunny, in Jesus and his resurrection, or maybe even both, I hope that you have a day filled with good food, fun, and surrounded by people who love and care about you.
The egg or the cross?
Neither. I chose love.