April 8, 2015
Whether you’ve just celebrated Easter or are currently celebrating Passover, I hope the holiday was and is all you hoped it would be. Customs vary widely, but all have some common elements. The largest of these is the inclusion of family and friends.
Whether we approach these special times traditionally, as our forbearers did, or we add our own modern twists, it’s the sharing with family and friends that makes these occasions memorable. And holidays observed without family close by are often spent recalling those memories made during earlier times.
My granddaughter, who is 14, asked me about Easter when I was a kid, and what it would have been like for her dad, our late son. From my childhood there are some traditions that stand out in my memory more than others. There were the candy baskets, of course, and the hunt for Easter eggs. In my house, both when I was a child and later, as a parent of young children, these were actual eggs—hard boiled by us the night before, and colored, and then “hidden” by the Easter bunny over night.
More than once as a young mom I had to spend time in the days following Easter Sunday hunting for that one egg that always seemed to defy being found. I wasn’t anal enough in those days to make a list of the hiding places.
The other thing I recall as a child was the whole, “get dressed up and go to Church” ritual that “Easter Parade” I used to hate. Today, going to Church isn’t the fancy dress occasion it used to be. I always figured too much emphasis was placed on the outside, instead of the inside where it belonged. I was raised Anglican (Episcopalian) and I’m old enough to recall that women and girls didn’t go into the church without having their heads covered. I never really knew why that was. But Easter Sunday was an even fussier occasion than normal, and the hats fussier still.
I recall a light pink dress, and a darker pink coat that was way too thin to be warm, and a hat that I really didn’t like. I would have been 5 or 6 at the time. Oh, and the white, for-Church-only shoes with the buckle in the wrong place and that were very uncomfortable. How could I forget them, or the socks with the itchy lace around the top? “Don’t scratch!” was an admonition that regularly interrupted the Easter liturgy when I was a kid.
Even being little, I understood the spiritual significance of Easter. That has never changed, but it’s the social rituals, shared with my family, that I look back on and recall so easily, rituals no longer observed. Right down to the colored eggs brought into the car with a salt shaker, for a treat to be enjoyed on the way home from services. In those days it was practically the only time we ate in the car.
This year, we awoke to a lovely gift from Mother Nature on Easter Sunday—about an inch and a half of snow, where none had been the night before. It was actually the only kind of snow I like, because as I looked out my front door, I saw white on the grass and on the vehicles, but not on the road.
My beloved, when he got up, looked out the window and then asked, “What month is it again?” Of course, this is Canada and we can both recall snowfalls as late as early May. I don’t want to think about that particularly, because I have green shoots breaking ground in my flower beds.
Soon I’ll have tulips and daffodils and narcissi, sweet spring blooms to fill the air with their fragrance. I’m on tenterhooks waiting to see if my lilies-of-the-valley, my lilacs, and my peonies survived. I’ve been hoping for some sign of life in my one and only rose bush, planted last year.
I know it’s a bit early for that in this area, yet.
March came and went nearly without consequence, not making much of an impression at all. The first week of April has been an unpredictable mix of cold and mild, and if it wasn’t for the fact that Easter is behind us, it would be tough to say, for certain, that spring had indeed arrived.
Not unpredictable is the reality that time marches on, regardless of our fussing about or the weather, in a cycle that in many ways resembles a rodent’s wheel.
And spinning ever faster with each progressive year.