For as long as my cousins and I can remember, Easter has been the holiday we've anticipated the most. We are quite possibly the furthest thing from being a religious family - instead our holidays have always been based on tradition, all of which were created by our Grandma Logan.
In the 1970's my grandparents purchased property at the head of Nitinat Lake on Vancouver Island; about an hour drive from Bamfield on the logging roads. This is where I have spent roughly twenty of my Easters. We had the usual traditions of painting eggs and hunting for candy. And as we grew up we would go through little rites of passage from being the chocolate hunter to the chocolate hider - from believing in to becoming to the Easter Bunny. And for most of those holiday visits to Grandma's cabin, I would happily binge on sugar before hitting the bumpy and windy road home - forgetting every time - as soon as the truck started my stomach would turn and I would be carsick. When it comes to chocolate, I'm not sure that I've even learned my lesson even now.
What made our Easters special, however, wasn't the candy or the Easter Bunny, or even being in nature - it was our Grandma Logan's tradition of stuffies. Every year since I can remember she would make stuffed animals for all her grandchildren (of all ages), her adopted grandchildren, and any friends we had brought along with us. Every year was a different theme and Grandma would gather us around to hear the story of how the animals came to be. One year it was a teddy bear picnic and another was whales displayed with a handpainted 'save the whales' protest sign. We took home polar bears, lizards, pigs, hippos, cats, and more. Grandma Logan lived a very humble life and so the material was usually purchased on sale or often donated to her - which is why one year we had blue and pink beavers. True to her usual creativity, she constructed a 'beaver dam' to display them and told us a story about how the beavers had been locked out of their house for the winter and were blue from hypothermia. We were instructed to take them home and warm them up with love!
When Grandma had a stroke a few years ago we thought that would be the end of our tradition, but it wasn't. Our Aunty Marion picked up where she left off. They even worked on the stuffies together on the last year that Grandma made them as her eyesight was starting to make sewing difficult. This year was our second Easter without Grandma Logan and it's impossible to get through this holiday without feeling the hole in our family, but with her passing our family has drawn even closer. When we lost the one person who pulled us together I thought that we would all scatter, but it turns out that none of us wanted to give up her traditions. I can't help but think wherever she is, she's satisfied with the mark she made on this earth and the fact that her love is continuing even in her absence.