Easter was a special holiday when I was a youngster at home. The actual preparations began weeks ahead, as Mom picked out material for our new Easter dresses and began fashioning fancy garments for her four daughters. She would pick out dotted Swiss or sheer organdy material to create the frothy dresses that we loved. Her old Singer sewing machine with the foot pedal seemed to run day and night as she sewed our fancy dresses. They were usually tiered, so that that the skirts would stand out in a circle of ruffles. She trimmed them in lace and ribbons, with a sash that tied behind. No princess in a ballroom gown could be as proud as were. After a season of feedsack dresses and skirts, we were more than ready for something fancy. Our school shoes were pretty well worn out by the time warm weather came, and we always got black patent leather sandals with a strap across the top for Easter. Daddy insisted on store bought cowboy shirts for the three boys -- to him, that was the height of fashion. We all got new socks (the girls were white) and we were ready for spring. Today's children (for the most part) have closets full of new clothes in the latest fashions. They seem to take these things for granted, and a new outfit seldom gets a second glance. Is it possible that they have too much? They will never know the thrill of getting a new article of clothing after months of wearing hand-me-downs and twice-patched dungarees.I can recall how excited our own children would get when they got something new. Immediately they would try it on and go show Liddie, Opal and Mary (our neighbors) their new outfit. I have noticed that when children are handed everything their hearts desire, they don't value their possessions like they would if they had to grub for it.(Enough moralizing!) I think Daddy got as much enjoyment at Easter time as we children did. I can see us now, clustered around the dining room table (protected by oilcloth) with our cups of egg dye, coloring three dozen eggs. Everybody got to help, and if the results were less than perfect, it didn't matter. Poor Daddy! More often than not, the ground would be frost covered and icy cold on Easter morning. That didn't deter him -- he was up at the crack of dawn, hiding the eggs all around the house. I remember one year when it was rainy, he hid them in the house, but it wasn't the same. We hurried from clump of grass to the rose bush and then behind the tool shed. It didn't matter if we were shivering and frozen, it was fun! We didn't get fancy baskets filled with Easter candies and goodies, but we didn't miss it. It was thrill enough to don our new clothes and shoes and head for Sunday School. When Easter Sunday came later in the spring, and the ground was warm and covered with velvety new grass, it felt so good to strip off the new shoes and socks and walk barefoot. It was only after we were older that we began to understand the true meaning of Easter. There are many symbols of Easter, and some of them have evolved from pagan rites. The egg, which represents new life, has been a symbol of spring since ancient times. Christians adopted the egg as an Easter symbol because of the relationship between Easter and the renewal of life. The wearing of new clothes for Easter is a custom among many Christians. It may have originated from the practice of having newly baptized Christians wear white clothing for the Easter celebration. Like many other Easter symbols, the new clothes represent the new life offered by the death and Resurrection of Jesus. The white lily is a Christian symbol of purity, and also a symbol of the Resurrection. These symbols meant nothing to us when we were children. Hunting colored eggs and even wearing new clothes was just an exciting event, not really related to church. Although we went to church every Sunday, and also Sunday and Wednesday nights, the spiritual aspect didn't really register. (When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. I Cor. 13:11) When understanding dawned (or reaching the age of accountability) my heart was broken by the account of the crucifixion and the suffering that Jesus endured for our sins -- and for my sins. I felt Him tenderly calling me to Him, and I almost ran to an altar to pour out my sorrow and repent of my sins. How faithful He is to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness! Now the Easter season has real meaning for me. Although the children still enjoy hiding and hunting their colored eggs, and parading in their new clothes, we know that is not the meaning of Easter. It is a risen Savior, who lives forevermore. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (I Peter 1:3) Hallelujah! Because He lives, we shall live also! EASTER IS A TIME OF JOYLet not your heart be troubled Let not your soul be sad Easter is a time of joy When all hearts should be glad. Glad to know that Jesus ChristMade it possible for men To have their sins forgiven And, like Him, to live again. So at this joyous season May the wondrous Easter story Renew our faith so we may be Partakers of His glory! By Helen Steiner RiceIt is my earnest prayer that each of my readers will find a true relationship with Jesus Christ. The only real peace in this world is what we find in Him. There is no other feeling like being able to stand before God and knowing there is nothing between your soul and Him, as well as nothing between you and others.God can keep us!Contact Alyce Faye Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 2556 Summers Fork Road, Ovapa, WV 25164.