About 15 years ago, our home experienced what Dear Husband and I refer to as the "Black Easter." All five kids had a stomach bug, which meant every sheet, towel and blanket was put into rotation. Just as one kid seemed to be on the upswing, another would fall. The first kid would spike a fever again.
Holy Saturday night found me in the ER with Dark-Haired Daughter, who was dehydrated. We drove home in a torrential thunder and lightening show. We never even made it to Mass on Easter.
Right now, it's Tuesday of Holy Week. Maybe your kids are sick. Maybe you are. Maybe you don't have enough money for the Easter Bunny to visit. Maybe you're depressed, and making it out of bed means you're having a good day.
What do you do when Holy Week takes a decidedly unholy turn?
- Pray the Stations of the Cross. Nope, don't go to church. Just find a nice reflection online or in one of your prayer books. It takes about 30 minutes to pray.
- Ask for help. Yeah, I know this is going to stick in the craw for a number of you. It's possibly my least favorite thing to do. Do it anyway. Call a girlfriend and ask her to pick up a bag of candy for your kids. Call your mom or your mother-in-law and say, "I need help." Whether it's getting caught up on laundry or finding the dining room table, people will be happy to help. But you have to ask.
- Give yourself permission to let go. Let go of your expectations of the perfect Holy Week. You aren't going to make it to every single Triduum service. And that's ok. It is not the end of the world. Rest. Catch your breath. It's ok.
- Sit down with your spouse and pray. If you're not married, sit down with the kids. If you don't have kids, ask a friend to pray with and for you. Pray about the important stuff: we're sorry for our sins. We want to be at the Foot of the Cross. Show us how.
- Remember, Easter lasts for 40 days. Yes, Easter Sunday is very important. But not so important that you need to drag your sick self to Mass. Find a way to celebrate a week later, or choose a wonderful Easter tradition (like dyeing eggs) that you can just as easily do 2 weeks after Easter as you can the day before Easter.
Sometimes, you plan Lent, and sometimes Lent plans you. Wherever you are at right now, do not take it to mean you cannot celebrate Easter. Celebrate! Christ is Risen! But don't kill yourself trying to be perfect - it's not gonna happen anyway.