It’s almost Easter.
When I was little, the Easter Bunny always left baskets for me (plus my sisters and brothers) to find. We each got a couple (or 4) straw baskets complete with the requisite Easter “grass” which ended up in the rug…everywhere. Inside we’d find foil covered chocolate eggs, a chocolate bunny and those marshmallow peeps – which were just as bright neon colored then as they are now. And jelly beans! And sometimes a stuffed animal – usually a bunny. And other stuff apparently… like educational books…
My younger sister and I often had matching dresses (ugh) and we each usually had an Easter hat. I actually got a kick out of the hat – I remember one had small red fake flowers around the brim. Patent leather shoes completed the look. It worked for my sister much more than me, as I’d just as soon run around the backyard and scoot up the jungle gym, Easter finery and all.
A few days before Easter we dyed hardboiled eggs different colors using the wire holders, still stained, from previous years. The kitchen table was covered in newspapers to limit the mess we’d make. The kitchen smelled of vinegar as we poured it into different cups of water. When I was older I was allowed to drop a different color pellet into each one and watch it dissolve. Sometimes we used wax crayons to draw designs on the eggs first. We were each allowed about 6 eggs to decorate. They were then stored in the frig for the “bunny” to get for our baskets. Or so went the story.
Sometimes we made it to church. Sometimes we didn’t. We belonged to a protestant church and went on a fairly regular basis if my parents didn’t sleep too late. It wasn’t my favorite childhood activity. We tried to be very quiet on Sunday mornings (ssshhhh stop talking so loud! Turn down RoadRunner!).
The best part of Easter, in my memory, are the years when my grandparents came for the day (or sometimes the night before and slept over); usually to take us all out to eat. And play cards! And eat the black jelly beans we didn’t want. Going out to eat was one of their most favorite things to do – and bringing the grandkids didn’t faze them one bit.
In grammar school we usually had an Easter party the week before Easter. Apparently it sometimes included student entertainment….
There was no school the week following Easter….for years referred to as “Easter Vacation” – and it included everyone; whether or not you celebrated the holiday. Nowadays it is just called Spring Break; a much more appropriate and inclusive label.
As I got older the Easter traditions became less defined. We drifted away from the matching dresses Thank Goodness (said I, the older sister) and the coloring of eggs. There was usually a stuffed animal – I got one in a care package my freshman year of college.
It was all useful, however, in knowing what to do when I had my own children many years later. Coloring eggs? check! Easter baskets? check! Easter grass (still getting stuck in the rug)? check! Chocolate bunny and eggs? check! I changed it up a bit with some little decorations and wind up silly toys. Hiding places were always a challenge – back of a closet or in the bathtub were usually dependable until they got old enough to remember from year to year. In the 1980’s there was such a thing as “Me and the Easter Bunny” photos at the mall – did that too; although that huge bunny was kind of bizarre looking.
Set the alarm for Easter morning? check! We usually went to church – one of my favorite services. My daughter dressed up and once wore one of my childhood hats. My son in a little jacket and tie. (at least I didn’t have to decide about matching dresses!) Easter dinner was at home or at my in-laws’ house – our children’s local grandparents. Traditional style – deviled eggs, ham, escalloped potatoes, etc.
One thing that didn’t survive down to their generation: Peeps. Nobody liked them.
One last thing: Easter is the subject of my most treasured book from childhood. It has the sweetest illustrations and story. It made the cut when we downsized – and I also made sure I knew where it was stored. The paper jacket has long since disappeared and the binding is loose and fragile. But precious all the same……