Growing up in Puerto Rico, there were certain things about the United States that truly fascinated me. American high schools, for example...how I longed to walk those clean, giant halls and visit a real school cafeteria (although I never really had a desire to actually EAT the cafeteria food). I wanted to go to a football game and see actual cheerleaders up close. And the school bus! How I wanted to ride in one of those to school every day instead of having my parents drive me to school and riding the bus only on field trips.
American houses were also a source of fascination, with their basements and second stories and fenced back yards. They looked like doll houses to me, and I couldn't believe real people actually lived in those structures.
Then there were the holidays. White Christmases and singing carols by the fire...holding American flags and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July...carving Halloween pumpkins...dressing kids up in their finest Sunday suits and having them hunt for eggs on Easter. Did people really do these things, or did they just happen in the movies???
When Bill and I moved to the Illinois suburbs from California, I spent the first year in awe and shock at everything I saw. I remember clearly driving around the area scoping out houses before the move and having this person walk out in front of our car and hold up a sign. Then a gaggle of children began parading in front of us and it dawned on me what was going on. It was a crossing guard! A real-life, up-close, real school crossing guard! They did exist!
In shock, I turned to Bill and said "We're moving to Stepford!"
I still love everything about suburban life. I love seeing a bunch of kids running around on the streets during the summer, their bikes and toys strewn across their front yards. I love watching the bunnies darting around my backyard, and find them so cute I can't really get mad at them for destroying our vegetable garden. I love catching sight of deer or coyotes running around. And I love celebrating the holidays here.
There are two holidays that are especially fascinating to me, since I never really celebrated them at home: Fourth of July and Easter Sunday.
Although I grew up Catholic, Easter was never a big holiday in my house. Sure, we got a basket - usually the store-bought, pre-filled kind - but that was about it. We never had Easter egg hunts. We never dyed eggs. We never dressed up and really never even went to church (I know, bad Catholic!). I don't even remember any big Easter dinners with the family, although I'm sure we had some since we always got together with our extended family for every holiday.
After Dylan came home, I got to experience my first real American Easter Sunday. Dylan's first time dying eggs was also my first time dying eggs, and although he quickly lost interest and started splashing the dye everywhere, I could have kept going for hours. It was so much fun!
Dylan's first Easter Egg hunt was also the first time I had been to an Easter Egg hunt in my life. It was amazing to see all the kids running around, picking up eggs and putting them in their baskets. Some of them can be really aggressive! My poor boy only managed to pick up maybe one egg, but he was happy nonetheless.
Now that Dylan's been home a few years, the Easter Sunday celebration has become part of our life. Dylan will grow up going to egg hunts and brunches with the family every year. He will think it is all perfectly normal and not at all anything to marvel at, but I wonder if I will ever feel that way. To me, even after all these years, it still feels like I'm stepping inside a movie.
Happy Easter, everyone!