Practicing with Children

Easter Dresses and Good News

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You can order Lee’s new book on Amazon.

–by Lee Hull Moses

My mother and I took my daughter to buy an Easter dress last weekend. This is not an annual tradition; new Easter outfits are not something we make a big fuss about. More often than not, my kids wear clothes they already have on Easter morning; me too: the last time I bought myself a new Easter dress was when I was several months pregnant and my choices were a new dress or sweat pants.

But last week, I realized that most of Harper’s dresses were from last summer, when she was a good two inches shorter than she is right now, which meant that the dresses were also two inches shorter, and well… it was just time for something new. Plus, my mom was in town, and we were running Saturday afternoon errands anyway, and so we ducked into the second-hand clothing store to see what we could find.

I write and think a lot  about how our everyday decisions – like buying clothes – impact the planet and the people around us, and I want to make sure I’m modeling the choices I hope my kids will make some day. Should we buy a new dress, even though she technically has other clothes she could wear? Does she really need a new dress or is this a case of culturally-induced want? Does buying second-hand make it better, or am I just rationalizing? Am I sending the message that Easter is really all about the fancy clothes?

One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve thought about all this is that hardly any decision has a clear right and wrong, and that I’m always falling short of the ideal. Would it be more sustainable and ethically responsible to sew a new Easter dress myself? Maybe, but let me tell you, that’s not going to happen.

At the store, there were several dresses in her size so we grabbed a handful and headed to the dressing room. At eight years old, she is still mostly unselfconscious about her body and thus much less concerned about the fit of the dress than the twirl factor. But she is certainly developing her own style: she quickly nixed the dress with the too-poofy sleeves in favor of the one with the asymmetrical skirt. At home later, she had a fashion show, her father and grandfather the captive audience, in which she tried on the shoes and the cardigan she would wear to complete the outfit.

I want my daughter to know how lucky (also: blessed, fortunate, privileged) she is that we can afford the luxury of new clothes for Easter. And I want her to learn to pay attention to how her actions impact the world around her. It matters where her dress was made, and by whom, and it matters if her closet is overstuffed with clothes she doesn’t need. I want her to know these things and live accordingly.

But I also want her to know the pleasure of a new outfit that fits just right, a dress that twirls when she spins. I want her to know that her growing body is a gift from God, worthy of treating well. And I want her to know the truth of the resurrection, that God breathes new life into even this broken world. That’s good news worth dressing up for.

Lee Hull Moses is the author of More Than Enough: Living Abundantly in a Culture of Excess and the coauthor of Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People.  Lee will be celebrating the good news this Easter with the good folks of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she is the pastor. You can connect with her at


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