A cap gun taught me the meaning of joy

"My parents’ Easter gift to me was perfect and that day my joy was complete."

Easter is my favorite religious holiday. I like it more than Christmas, and I like Christmas a lot.  As a child, I thought that the Easter morning egg hunt was as exciting as finding presents under the tree.

In some ways, Easter morning was even better than Christmas morning. Christmas involved an element of doubt that was absent from Easter.  Unlike Santa, who was a bit intimidating with his list of naughty and nice children, the Easter Bunny was a happy-go-lucky character that dropped eggs indiscriminately.

One Easter stands out vividly in my memory. My sisters and I always received a small gift with our Easter baskets. The gifts were simple things, like a slinky, a yo-yo or a matchbox car, and because they were unexpected, they were a delightful surprise.

That particular Easter morning, as was the custom in our home, four beautiful baskets were lined up on the kitchen counter. I took a quick look at my basket, and my heart leaped for joy; I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  There in my basket was a cap gun and a cowboy hat with a red whistle.  I was incredulous because despite incessantly begging for a cap gun for weeks, my parents had steadfastly refused to purchase one.

I was chomping at the bit to try out my cap gun, but we had to go to Mass.  Fortunately, I had a new Easter outfit; my pride in wearing it lessened the agony of waiting until after Mass before I could run around the neighborhood, blowing my whistle and shooting off my cap gun.

As soon as we got home, I shucked my pretty, feminine Easter bonnet for the cowboy hat, strapped the holster and gun around the waist of my dress, and bolted out the door, my little sister in pursuit, to test the whistle and gun. Before long, we were fighting over whose turn it was to shoot off the caps; my mother called us in, and I had to put my marvelous cap gun away, although I wore the hat in protest until we sat down for brunch.

It may seem odd that my fondest memory of the Easters of my childhood revolves around a cap gun. There were, after all, a host of meaningful, annual traditions that characterized my family’s celebration of Easter, and while they are fixed in my memory, none of them evoke that blissful moment when I spotted my cap gun.

My parents’ Easter gift to me was perfect and that day my joy was complete.

That Easter morning, the mysteries of heaven and the realities of human existence came together for me in a cap gun and a cowboy hat. Those two simple toys were symbols of a love that had nothing to do with being naughty or nice.

The joy that I experienced that Easter morning was a moment of grace when I was in the presence of God’s perfect love, and not even a spat with my little sister could diminish my happiness nor tarnish its memory.

Trail, BC resident Louise McEwan is a freelance religion writer with degrees in English and Theology. She has a background in education and faith formation. Her blog is www.faithcolouredglasses.blogspot.com. Contact her at mcewan.lou@gmail.com .