Saying goodbye to the Easter Dress

22 April 2014

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:: 2011 ::

It's not really a big deal. Or, at least, it shouldn't be. Easter isn't about the dresses, and when you really think about it, pageantry is kind of the opposite of what happened on that desperate weekend so long ago. But still, in my formative years, when I was transitioning from awkward girl to awkward teenager, I could always count on a new Easter Dress. I have many memories of flowered skirts and white shoes, of the anticipation of the new outfit that would propel me into the fashionable orbit of Easter Girls. Ironically, princess-type frills were never my thing, but on Easter I threw those ideals out the window and embraced the glory of femininity.

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:: 2008 ::

In a childhood where resources were tight, my mother still made sure to treat us to those Easter dresses. It was like Christmas in April and my sister and I always felt special, beautiful and girly, standing in front of my grandparents' house on a sunny Kansas morning. I have no idea what kind of church clothes I wore the rest of the year. I assume there were skirts and pointy shoes, maybe red bows for Christmas. But the only images that remain are of those Easter Dresses, a symbol of the celebration of resurrection, and the feeling of being pretty for my friends (and for the boys) on at least one day a year.

Ella last wore a dress for Easter in 2012. And it wasn't really a dress so much as a navy suit. She chose to forgo the flowers and the fluff, opting instead for white piping and zebra shoes. I didn't think about it so much at the time, but in the two years that have passed, it has become the norm of her identity: she is not a dress girl. She'd rather not wear skirts. She will only wear pink if there's some sort of animal on it (Christmas 2011 saw her in the "human cat dress" - thanks, H&M). And her usual Sunday attire consists of jeans and a hoodie.

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:: 2012 ::

We used to fight about this. Not that I always wanted her in dresses, but we had a closet full of them. She's the only granddaughter on my side of the family, and her aunts and grandparents generously showered her with a beautiful wardrobe, a rainbow of skirts and dresses. They paid close attention to her style and personality, always careful to pick out something sporty or unique. But still those dresses hung in the closet, mostly untouched. We'd have standoffs at the bedroom door, me not wanting these gifts to go to waste, her not even willing to consider them.

I wasted so much time driving us both crazy over it. But somewhere along the way, I gave up this less-than-noble fight. For me and my strong-willed girl, there are bigger battles to wage... like school uniforms. In her Irish Catholic national school, girls wear pinafores and skirts, tights and dress shoes. Ella wears trousers, her brothers hand-me-down school jumper, black Mary Jane's. This has been a whole other ordeal for our opinionated tomboy.

But back to the Easter Dress.

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:: 2007 ::

This year I gave it a passing, fleeting thought. Considered whether to take her shopping, let her pick out an outfit. In the end, we woke up on Sunday like we wake up on most Sundays. I gave her a few options, vaguely stricter guidelines for what she could wear on Easter. I knew we had already said goodbye to the Easter Dress, at least for now. I'm not going to force her into a skirt because it just doesn't matter in the least. I'm not going to make her feel wrong or uncomfortable. I am going to let her be her, within reason.

And I'm going to tell her she's beautiful, just as she is and chooses to be... on Easter, and every other day.

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:: 2014 ::

Ironically, her brothers were more than happy to let me pick out what they wore. I will unashamedly dress the boys in coordinating Easter outfits as long as they let me.

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What are your thoughts on the Easter dress? Did you have similar traditions growing up?

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