secret behind southern child's easter dress

secret behind southern child's easter dress

Easter outfits are kind of a big deal in the South.
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Seriously, this Sunday you will find children dressed in not only their Sunday best but their Southern best. There will be so much lace that newcomers attending church will wonder if we are all here for a wedding instead of to celebrate Christ's resurrection. We southern mamas just can't help ourselves. From heirloom dresses for our girls to tall white socks on our boys, we love a good ole' fashioned outfit on our children. I will plead guilty this Sunday for making our girls wear big bows in their hair and for Ridley to not have a single trace of Ninja Turtles in his attire. Making memories, people, making memories.

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Of course, to make memories, we have to take the family Easter picture, right? You know, the one where we are all squinting on the front porch with the sun glaring in our eyes and the bright fuschia azaleas blooming in the background. We smile the fake smile even though we are so over wearing our new outfits and so ready to eat our ham and take a nap (Ridley will be wearing his Ninja Turtle pajamas by this point, rest assured). Since the Easter picture can be somewhat forced, I took the liberty of snapping a few pre-Easter shots when we were at the beach recently just in case Easter morning involved some meltdown over candy or presents or something so not in the name of Jesus.  While I managed to get several lovely shots, many looked a little something like this:

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Getting three kids under the age of six to all smile and sit still at the camera is no easy task people! But, I'm such a fan of the few I did capture of my sweet things:

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Adeline, five years old

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Maralee, five years old

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Ridley, two years old

Since Ridley is two, this is the year of the light oil portrait. I had Robertson's Photography in Montgomery make light oil paintings of Adeline and Maralee in their custom Easter dresses, and I'm so looking forward to having Ridley's portrait made by Phil Robertson this spring. It is an investment, but I do think it is a beautiful keepsake to remember that these childhood years weren't always so crazy.

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Because I wanted Ridley to have an heirloom outfit to pass down to his children one day, I asked Mrs. Sally, the owner of The Sewing House in Dothan, to make him an outfit. I wish I could have taken lessons from her to make it myself, but I'm afraid that I'm very out of practice and don't have the time like I did when the twins were little to stay up and work on it. Even though I didn't make it, it is evident that Mrs. Sally made this outfit with love. It's perfectly tailored and not too "girly" for our little guy. He looks so big, doesn't he?

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When we moved to Dothan, I had taken a class on hand embroidery at The Smock Shoppe and had begun embroidering Maralee's dress. But, then I put it down and never picked it back up. I had bought the lace too, but it just sat in my sewing bag for TWO YEARS. I showed this to Mrs. Sally, and she was able to take what I had started and turned it into a beautiful A-line dress. She had to make Adeline's pink dress from scratch, and I think she did a fantastic job. Hand embroidery is such detailed work, and those roses are for the advanced sewer (I do not fall into that category!). Here's a close up look at her handiwork:

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Some people of the more practical mind might call these outfits showy and unnecessary. Trust me, I get that children's clothes are expensive and they grow out of them. But I think there is something sacred about putting on beautiful clothes for special occasions that completely justifies the money spent. Sure, my kids will only wear these outfits a handful of times but if we take care of them, they can be passed down for generations to come. Maralee loves to sleep with my yellow baby blanket. One day, she might love to wear my wedding veil. Why not give my children clothes that can make them smile when they adorn them on their children twenty years from now? 

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Yes, Easter is about celebrating Jesus' death and resurrection. It's not about the fancy clothes and meal but the fancy clothes and meal do draw us into a spirit of celebration. When we miss this, we miss the reason for the beautiful outfits and our children become part of a parade on our Facebook home page. But, when we can recognize the symbolism and the beauty and enjoy the day instead of fussing or fighting over socks and bows and shoes, then we can truly enter into holy communion with Christ, our Savior. He really doesn't care what we wear, and He won't turn us away, no matter how we are dressed.

So put your kids in the fancy outfits. Or don't. However you dress them and decide to dress yourself this Sunday, just remember that your family is not a show and there is no prize. Come to the altar, in your fancy dress or your ragamuffin garments, and give God thanks for creating His son as a man, who understands all the hurt and happiness that we experience, and teaches us kindness and forgiveness and so many other things that we desperately need to know to make it during our short time here on earth. Sound good?

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Happy Easter, from our family to yours!

Till next time, let your light shine,

Blessings, christen

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