As a divorced, single mother, I feel the need to create new traditions for our reconfigured family. It's a last ditch effort to provide my sons with some happy-normal-we-all-get-along memories of their childhoods. Some traditions I've tried have been a hit, like decorating Christmas cookies together. And some, like the Elf on the Shelf, have been a bust.
A couple years ago, I felt the Easter weekend traditions were weak. Sunday was full, but Friday and Saturday were thin. Therefore in the checkout line at Office Max, the go-to place for hit movies, I picked up Jesus starring Jeremy Sisto. My Norman Rockwell Easter weekend began to take shape. On Good Friday, I envisioned us curled up on the sofa in our jammies, completely engrossed in Jesus. No arguing. No name-calling. No electronic devices. Just peace, quiet, and Jesus. In fact, because my fantasy seemed so ideal, I decided that Jesus from Office Max would be a Good Friday family tradition for years to come.
On Friday, after threatening to take away the boys' XBOX and ban them from Minecraft for eternity, I finally bribed them with popcorn to gather on the
My fantasy sons said:
"Wait for me!"
"C'mon, Mom, let me make the popcorn for you, just this once, puh-lease?"
And, "I know we haven't even watched this movie yet, but I hope we can watch it every year. Can we, Mom? Can we?"
“Seriously, Mom, if there are talking vegetables, I'm so outta here."
“Indiana Jones suffers and has a whip. Why can't we just watch that?"
"They pooped in pails back then, right? That's so gross and cool at the same time.”
Eventualy we settled in and watched. And as Jesus was whipped brutally by the Romans, one by one, they snuggled a little closer.
“I don’t want Jesus to die.”
“Why are people just standing there?"
"Why don't they see he's a good guy?”
In silence, they watched a struggling, bloody Jesus carry his cross through the crowd and up the hill. As nails were driven through his hands, I noticed some tears in the boys' eyes. As Jesus hung on the cross, clearly in pain, their crying increased.
Between sniffles, they demanded answers:
“Why won’t God save his only son?”
“Why won't someone do something?”
And not unexpected, "He's totally in pain..... Sooooo...what if he's got to go to the bathroom up there? I'm jus' sayin'.”
I envisioned my Norman Rockwell fantasy sons moved and touched by the movie, but certainly not as moved and touched as my actual sons became. I was unprepared for their strong reactions. Had this been a mistake? Would they have nightmares for weeks? They sobbed as Jesus suffered on the cross. I thought, how long is this death scene going to last? My kids are sobbing for Christ's sake. Geezus, Jeremy-Sisto-playing-Jesus, just die already to save my sons. And that's exactly what he did.
At the end, we moved to the kitchen for gezzert. His mouth stuffed with banana cake, my middle son asked, “Mom, do they make Jesus jammies? I want some. Jesus was tough. He was awesome.” I, too, was stirred by the movie, but even more from the reactions of my children. My oldest looked at me thoughtfully and quietly said, “Jesus’s friends were lucky. They got to see him after he rose from the dead. We just have to believe.” My youngest was unsure, “Um, well, I believe we might be luckier than Jesus’s friends. We've got toilets.”
Yep. It’s a keeper.