As a girl, Easter was my favorite holiday. Unlike Christmas, when the celebration was followed by the long, gray winter, Easter was filled with the sunny promise of new life. The spring and summer days ahead would bring the crops to harvest in the fields by our house, the farm coming to life after the dormant period.
Our Easter weekend was filled with doing yard work because family would stop by on Sunday morning en route to Grandma Smith’s and Daddy wanted everything looking good. We’d make a trip ‘uptown’ to buy patent leather shoes and perhaps a pair of bobbie socks with lace trim. Mama would be busy at her Singer sewing machine, finishing up the last of her three daughters’ dresses. Often she was up late into Saturday night and still managed to get up early Easter morning to attend the sunrise service. While I hated climbing out of bed, I loved that community service in the Buffalo Church cemetery, standing with the crowd on the hillside of graves, facing the speaker and the fog over the pond behind him, thinking of the women going to Christ’s tomb. Afterwards, we’d join the others from Shallow Well UCC and eat breakfast that was prepared by the men of the church.
I’d proudly wear my new dress to Sunday School, and pull out the Easter basket candy I’d tucked away in my new patent leather purse, jelly beans and my favorite, orange flavored candy eggs with marshmallow filling. The best part of the worship service was singing triumphantly, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!” which was sung with more energy than most hymns in our church. During the sermon, I mostly daydreamed about joining my cousins for lunch and an Easter egg hunt at Grandma Smith’s. There, after a heavy lunch of ham, chicken, deviled eggs, and all kinds of side dishes and desserts, our aunts would hide those colorful candy eggs in the bank of pink and lavender ‘thrift’ (which I later learned was creeping phlox).
Years later, when my boys were in middle school, I planted ‘thrift’ around the edge of my raised flower bed. Our sons were past the age of Easter egg hunts, but I thought maybe one day my grandchildren could look for those colorful eggs among the blooms of that creeping flower. I didn’t know then that we would downsize and move from that home we’d built and lived in for almost twenty years, into the city where it would be more convenient and easier as we transitioned into our senior years.
Now, I have a grandson, Baker– who will soon be a year old. Last week we had a get together with his cousins– my two great nephews who are 3 and 5. It was rainy and we had to have our Easter egg hunt inside. Instead of hiding those candy eggs in the thrift, I hid plastic ones on chairs, and bookcases, on top of a globe. Baker mostly watched as his cousins made quick work of finding the eggs and didn’t seem to notice that they weren’t hidden outside. They squealed with delight as they found the plastic eggs and were pleased with the treats their Great Aunt Connie placed in their baskets. Baker watched the older boys and the next week when his school had a hunt, his teachers were amazed that he knew what to do.
This afternoon, on Easter Eve we attended worship together. It was a special family time with my little grandson dressed in his denim shirt and dress pants with tiny dinosaurs. He had a tie but no sense in putting it on because he’d pull it off like his bibs.
Instead of a big meal at Grandma’s afterwards, we ate in a Mexican restaurant. When I was walking him around to look at the lights and bright decorations, we discovered a foosball table where two elementary-age children were trying to figure out the game. Holding Baker in my left arm I took a control knob of the foosball with my right, remembering how we played in college, and the little boy smiled as we did our best to play the game. Baker watched the ball and the children and soon he was saying, “Ball!” “Ball!” so loudly that his parents could hear him across the restaurant.
It was our first Easter together. I look forward to many more and one day listening to him telling me what he remembers about Easters in the past.
How About You?
What are your special memories of Easter from your childhood?
How do you celebrate Easter now?