Here we are again! The daffodils are in full bloom, the cherry trees have burst into clouds of pink, and the temperature is ticking up a few degrees every day. It is spring.
Here we are again. Churches are packed with parishioners. Children are packed full of jelly beans and sugared marshmallow chicks, and many a house will be strewn with stray bits of the transparent plastic filaments known as Easter grass. It is Easter.
The season has turned, the cycle is completed anew. It all feels familiar, because it is familiar. And yet --
Even in the deep and consoling familiarity of the arrival of spring, of the redemption of Easter and the renewal of traditions attached to it, there is a truth as bittersweet as a dark-chocolate bunny.
Everything is familiar, but nothing is quite the same as it was. It never is; it never can be.
In the last few days, our house has been full of people. Children from just down the road ran in and out, conspiring with our children, making goofy glamour videos together, bouncing on pogo sticks, trashing the bedrooms and building obstacle courses with stuff dragged out of the garage. They are exactly the same children who ran in and out of our house last year when the crocuses started blooming, but during the 12 months between one spring and the next, the family moved away. Now they're only visiting.
Last spring, our eldest daughter enjoyed the best slice of real estate in the house, a second-floor bedroom with amenities dear to the teenage heart. This spring, she, too, is only visiting. Her brother has her old bedroom, and she, poor kid, has half her belongings stowed in a university trunk room on the other side of the Atlantic, and the other half piled beside her makeshift pallet in a small basement room. A water leak rendered her new room (the old guest room) temporarily uninhabitable. Tonight, she leaves again. That used not to happen.
Last Easter, we left the front door wide open to let in the warm breeze. This Easter, we must be careful to keep it closed. Otherwise there will come a great galloping sound, and Billy the Wonder Dog will burst ecstatically on to the porch, across the lawn and up the road to bark at his friend Henry. It's a small thing, needing to guard the door, but it's an adjustment.
Ah, but some things do remain the same. The airwaves carry with familiar arguments over federal spending. A new pope in Rome blesses with the authority of the previous pope. A neighbor pops over once just as she did last year to cadge a bone for the Passover table. There is comfort in continuity, don't you think? We need it, given how much, invariably, will change.
Meghan Cox Gurdon's column appears on Sunday and Thursday. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.