Easter, Australian-Style–a bit different!

Last Thursday, my precious, first born son turned four.  How I ever have become the mother of a 4-year-old boy, when I still feel most of the time like I don’t know how to be a mother, is beyond me, but I am very grateful for that spirited, rambunctious, trying, fun, silly, loving blessing in my life.  It is such an honour to be his mother.  I can’t believe I was chosen for it!  We had a lovely day celebrating our little man.   We drove up north of Brisbane into the hinterland (“mountains”) and strolled around a cute little town called Maleny which had a little main street lined with boutiques and craft shops.  We enjoyed a picnic in the town park and then Drew got to pick out a cupcake from the bakery.  Bakeries are commonplace here and the fresh baked goods, both sweet and savoury, in them are a real treat!  Then we drove down to the beach at Caloundra, where the surf was pretty rough, but we still got to play in it, along with fun in the sand and the spray park.  The weather was gorgeous! 

We all had a great day, the only downside, in my eyes being that we have had a difficult time catching up with my family, namely my parents this past week and I feel like we are missing a lot of each other’s life news.  We seem to have been on opposite schedules, but it is only a week—we’ll catch up more soon I know.

We had some fun friends over to watch “Friday Night Footy” on Good Friday, which was a great time.  Around most of the Australians we know around here, I feel like I have to be on ‘good behaviour’, i.e. if I say anything about Australia or my experience here it has to be positive, as in life here is so wonderful; everything here is better than the U.S., etc.  It was the same for Steve back in the U.S.  But around the friends that Steve’s known for ages and that I’ve known since we started dating, I can let my guard down a bit and say that I think a certain food or custom or word or expression is weird.  I can even tease them about it and say it makes no sense at all and they still like us, so that makes for a more fun, relaxed time for me.  For example, the boys were talking about ‘footy tips.’  Apparently, these are a person’s ‘picks’ for that week, of who is going to win all the games, or the person’s bets.  I told them that calling them tips doesn’t make any sense!  You’re not giving anyone a tip, or piece of advice; you’re picking who you think the winner will be.  Funny stuff over here, I tell ya! 

For Easter here, Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, so everyone that is not already off for school is off for a four day weekend and EVERYTHING that was closed on Christmas Day is closed on Good Friday.  It was cool to see everyone enjoying a long weekend like that—we do not have any period where everyone gets four days off in a row in the U.S.  Again, I enjoyed that everything is called Easter here, Easter Egg Hunts instead of the Spring Egg Hunts around Boulder, and being able to say Happy Easter.  I am Christian, so it is easy for me to enjoy this freedom to be Christian, but I have wondered what it must feel like for people of other faiths to move here.  Not only are their faiths not recognized, but I have not even seen any support for them.  They must be around somewhere, but I have not noticed yet any Jewish temples, Buddhist centres, etc.  I realized that there is no ‘separation of church and state’ here like we have, so Australia is very up front about the fact that this country was founded on Christianity and that is the way of life that immigrants need to accept.  It is much different than how the U.S. presents itself as a haven for anyone no matter their beliefs.  I wonder if people of other faiths move here often, and if they are so appreciative of the way of life here (which I am definitely starting to feel is better than life in the U.S. in a lot of respects), or if they are bothered by the lack of support for their faiths and/or belief systems. 

Marquees on the highways (motorways) were wishing everyone safe  driving over Easter; marquees outside school buildings wished people safe travels over the Easter school holidays.  They also advertised Easter Hat Parades on the last Friday of the term.  I learned that at elementary (primary) schools, the kids make an Easter bunny mask or hat of some sort as an activity and then there is a parade through the school for all of them—sounds cute.   On Monday we went to a carnival/fair event and I saw tents and booths run by government agencies and others run by churches.  There were crosses displayed and everywhere you looked, messages about the Christian meaning of Easter.  That’s when the realization hit me of no separation of church and state over here because an event that featured both churches and government would not be allowed in the U.S. 

However, all that aside, this was the most non-religious Easter I have ever celebrated!  Isn’t that ironic?!  First of all, the emphasis on chocolate was mind boggling to me.  The stores sold chocolate eggs and bunnies of sizes I have never before seen, pure walls of chocolate for sale in the aisles.  Very creative, too—Easter Thomas the Train chocolates, Dora, chocolate shaped like carrots—it was amazing.  Very little jelly beans, no Peeps, very little by way of non-chocolate Easter sweets or toys.  Also, the plastic eggs were harder to find and the egg hunts here consist of hunting for all chocolate eggs. 

In addition, it didn’t seem like a very family-oriented holiday, like I have been used to.  LOTS of people went camping or on trips of some sort, and I didn’t really hear of people going to church, or gathering afterward for nice, dressy family meals, just as we do on Christmas.  Even Facebook was interesting—my American friends were posting photos of colored eggs, kids dressed up in their handsome new spring church outfits and Easter baskets filled with cute toys and a few chocolates.  Australian friends posted photos of chocolate eggs and people wearing bunny ears, or talking about their camping experiences.  It was definitely a new cultural experience.

As for us, we went down to a friend’s house on Saturday afternoon, a family who has just moved into a house they built in a very rural, country area.  It was gorgeous.  We spent the night there which was a lot of fun despite the fact that our children did not sleep and left us exhausted on Easter Sunday.  The four kids had an egg hunt combining both the Aussie chocolate eggs and my American contribution of plastic eggs filled with stickers and jelly beans, and had a great time!  And, of course, I broght our traditional deviled eggs, made from the brown ones we’d colored—turned out fine!  Steve helped work in the yard and the eight of us just relaxed a bit and enjoyed visiting.  That night I made my little crew of four pancakes for dinner as a treat. 

I went to work yesterday and really enjoyed a break from our six days of complete togetherness.  I realized why we normally go on vacations when we have time off together—we don’t all drive each other as crazy if we are travelling!  J  Last night was the chilliest night I have experienced.  We didn’t quite close all our windows and I wore sweats and slippers all evening.  It has also been cooler today, although still nice—while I did child-free errands and Steve biked the boys down to the library for story time. 

This move still amazes me in terms of stuff.  I still can’t get it all straight what we packed, what we have, and what we don’t.  I can’t find socks for the boys!   That sounds nuts anyway, but if you knew how my Mom had a thing for buying socks and gave them new pairs almost every week, it is just completely too ridiculous to believe.  Ah, well, however it came to be, no socks, so I stocked up at Target today! 

Oh, I can’t believe I almost forgot this—last week I had my first SNAKE in my house!!!  I was leaving the laundry room, and walked to the boys’ play room in the basement and it started twisting and slithering—holy cow!  I ran up and got Steve and when we saw it again, I realized I had described it as much bigger and scarier than the poor little thing actually was—but still!  Another first!!

And, thank you to Uncle Sam, because we got a great U.S. tax refund—negates our round trip flight booboo from last year—yippee!  Things are looking bright.  Let’s see what Matilda (could that be a fun nickname for the government here?!) does for us in June….  🙂

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