The year I turned 12 years old, our family’s Easter celebration coincided with the April general conference. We adjusted accordingly. I remember joining my cousins in front of my grandparents’ big TV dutifully watching the Saturday morning and afternoon sessions. Shortly after the afternoon session, we had dinner, an Easter message, and then time came my favorite activity: the Easter egg hunt.
Just as my aunts slipped outside to start hiding the eggs, my mom grabbed me and reminded me that things were different since my last birthday. “Peter, you need to get changed for the priesthood session. Dad will take you with all the uncles.”
I frowned. “Will I have time to get some Easter eggs?”
“Maybe,” Mom said, “if you hurry. Your clothes are in the back room.”
I ran through the hall of my grandparents’ home to where Mom had stowed my change of clothes. As I changed, I could see my aunts—my mom had now joined them—hurriedly scattering Easter eggs and candy across the back lawn. I checked my watch. We only had about 15 minutes before the priesthood session started. I looked out the window again. Would there be time?
As I watched, my aunts disappeared from the yard. When they reappeared, all of my cousins and little brothers swarmed around them, baskets in hand, scooping up the eggs and chocolates. I started putting on my tie, hoping that if I hurried, there might be some left.
My mom came through the back door. “There won’t be time, Peter. Are you ready to go?” She had an Easter basket in her hand with some eggs and candy in it. “I saved you some.”
I looked in the basket. It wasn’t as much as I normally managed to grab. I probably sighed a little. “Thanks, Mom,” I said, as I took a few pieces out of the basket.
“You’d better hurry,” she said. “I think they’re all waiting for you.”
I was greeted with a mixture of smiles and compliments. “Hey, there’s my sharp nephew!” said one of my uncles. “Looking good!” said another.
I smiled. I was suddenly excited as we rushed out the front door and piled into a couple of cars to make the quick drive to the chapel. My dad’s joy in having his son with him for the first time was palpable. I sat down between my dad and my grandpa. With my uncles, we took up a good portion of the bench. I think I kept smiling through the entire session.
I don’t remember what any of the speakers said that night, but I do remember the difference between missing the Easter egg hunt and being with the rest of the priesthood. I was happy. I had been a deacon for only four months, but I could feel the love that my father and uncles had for me and the camaraderie we all had as brethren of the priesthood. I was lucky to have that experience when I was so young, but from it, I have developed an abiding love of the priesthood, general conference, and my family. Now, as each general conference approaches, I try to re-create those feelings that I first felt as a young deacon at my first priesthood session.
Illustration by Allen Garns