I knew that Easter might be a bit rough this year, and it was. Luckily, my most difficult moments were in solitude and I allowed my tears to flow freely without an ounce of self-consciousness. Sometimes, a good cry is really all that can help with the sadness. I needed a few days to get my thoughts together enough to relay my memories of the holiday. I had wanted to do it on Easter day, but found that when I sat to write, my emotions were still a bit too raw to think clearly. So I waited, until it felt right.
Thank goodness for loved ones because, although there was an absolute absence within my heart, I was definitely well taken care of and included in the true essence of Easter in its most traditional sense. I adore Easter and all aspects of it, including the commercial aspect. I think it’s one of those holidays where there is a nice balance between recognizing one’s faith and enjoying the simplicity of family fun.
As a child, Easter was always a pretty big deal. Mom was a seamstress and for years made us new, crisp, white dresses. To add to that were hats adorned with pastel ribbons and shiny shoes squeaky enough to demand all the attention one might need when dressed in their finest. In preparation for the big day, I can remember all the fittings and adjustments needed, which just added to the anticipation. Mom was really good about allowing us some say in which dress patterns we liked so that on the actual day, we were always pretty excited about our new outfits.
I don’t know how she did it. She managed to always find time to do it all. We dyed eggs until our fingers were little multicolored shriveled up prunes. The image of aprons and wire scoops balancing delicate, wobbling eggs with pink, blue, green, and yellow cups of brilliant liquid to plop them into is such a vivid picture in my mind. It was always so exciting.
Easter morning we would quietly sneak to the living room to see what kinds of goodies the Easter Bunny had blessed us with, knowing full well our bellies would be ever so delighted with the delicacies we would soon be engulfing. We were never disappointed. Whether it was hollow chocolate bunnies, old school jelly beans, or the creamy smoothness of specialty chocolates, we were in complete heaven. Also hidden in our baskets, at least for us girls, would be a fun little piece of jewelry and a book that we might have been longing for. The sweet simplicity of it all was what makes it so endearing to me now. I often wonder just how some of our holidays have lost that nostalgic feel and are now so much more grandiose and pretentious.
For some reason, on this special day, our lovely little church always seemed so much brighter and more full of light than on any other day. It was always buzzing with laughter and happiness on Easter day. Right in the middle of the aisle stood a big white cross with holes all over it specifically meant for freshly picked flowers from the garden. The simple act of finding the perfect hole so that my flower stood out among all the rest was part of the fun. The sermon was uplifting and the hymns always joyful. Having an exceptional voice, Mom was certain to sing in the choir. Even today, if I close my eyes and make still everything else….I can hear her singing. She sang without reservation and enough jubilation to fill an entire room. I believe it will always be something I can hear. I don’t imagine it will ever go away.
So this weekend, as I sat in an unfamiliar church listening to a service a bit foreign to me and mostly hymns I had never heard before, I was comforted by the fact that I was with amazing people, experiencing what Easter has always meant to them through the years and it warmed my heart to know that we are all different and yet so much alike in so many ways. Although Mom was not with me in person, I felt that she was there. Of all the hymns sung that day, I only knew of two of them, both being hymns that Mama used to love to sing. Luckily for me, they were the processional hymn and the recessional hymn….they guided me into the service and lead me back out into the sunshine. I think she knew I needed something to get me there and then a little nudge to get me back out to enjoy the rest of the day and the company of those with especially big hearts and open arms.