rowing up, Easter was a time when the whole earth seemed to be refreshing itself. Everything was brand-new. Leaves were coming out on trees and blooms of flowers were everywhere. Of course we think of the Easter lily at that time, but the dogwoods, redbuds, almonds, cherries, and pears brighten up the yards and byways, as well as daffodils, tulips, azaleas, forsythia, and other flowers.
It was a common practice, I recall, that us kids would get some new ‘church-going’ outfits and we’d all pose for the Brownie camera snapshots. Somewhere while growing up we bought color film so the pretty pastel colors of my cousin Julia’s sweet dress would show up for posterity. Cousin George got a new suit or sports coat even though he wouldn’t attend Easter service, and I got whatever we could afford that year.
I think the shoes were definitely on the list of things because there was two times a year we tried to replace the old stuff. One were when school started in late August or early September and then Easter was the other. That wasn’t really six months, but it would do since the need for fancy, well-fitting shoes was less of a problem in the summer months. A hole or two might bring in some fresh air, if you know what I mean.
I remember the big Easter basket my mom filled with the green cellophane grass and loose jelly beans. There was a chocolate bunny in there, too. The ears wouldn’t last long. I liked the solid bunnies better, but most were hollow. They tasted great. There were also some marshmallow rabbits, and chocolate eggs wrapped in foil. I remember peeling those and molding a little ball from the foil. Easter’s candy was much lighter fare than what we got for Halloween.
I remember making Easter eggs with my mom. I can remember the smell of vinegar that was in the bowls that held different colors for dipping. We had stickers for some and a wax pencil to write on others before dipping them. We’d take the eggs and hide them around the house. Sometimes we’d do it outdoors in weeds, trees, crevasses or lawn furniture, but they would be hidden inside sometimes, as well. I remember finding some behind seat cushions well after Easter. They wouldn’t let me eat those. Sometimes we’d eat the others or Granny would pickle them for later. We made deviled eggs out of some, so that was a little like having your cake and eating it, too.
For reasons I would only understand later in life, the church was full on Easter. The choir would sing a cantata of some kind and every pew would be full; even the loft. The preacher would tell the age-old story of how Christ had arisen. Everyone was so happy and so was I. It would be a few years before I began to see what I understand better every year. The Hosanna’s of last week were nothing compared to a victory from the grave. It is in that hope that we all rest, knowing that there is victory over death.
Some Easters we as a family would walk down Madison as if we were in the Park Avenue Easter Parade. We weren’t but we felt like it. The patent leather shoes sparkled and hats sat upon the ladies’ heads, often with a little netting and many flowers. Some years they were large hats and others were less so, depending on the styles, I suppose. White gloves on the ladies was normal and were used when going to town even after I grew up, but it wasn’t long before they were replaced by curlers and blue jeans.
I remember that after church we walked home knowing that we would have guests sometime during the day. I knew that meant there would be food. Desserts were light but tasty, and potato salad and deviled eggs would be on the list. Yum! The guests were family for the most part, some coming from as far away as Huntington and once or twice, from Richmond, VA. My grandmother came in from Salt Lick and some from Catlettsburg. We kids played and screamed with joy as we ran amok down the streets. The Easter outfits were left hanging, or wadded up on the bed lest they be damaged. Considering the cost of those things putting them in peril would be putting ourselves in peril for the parents would be enraged.
I remember going up to the front of the church and kneeling at the altar which had been pulled out for communion. The back of the kneeling altar had little holes just right for putting the little cups into. I cannot forget the awful time that when the preacher held the tray of sacramental cups, I chose one and then dropped it right back on the poor man. That made me get tickled, uncontrollably so. He offered me another cup and I held on for dear life, but still trying to hold back an explosion of laughter. I knew it wasn’t funny, but I couldn’t help it. I dreaded the time I would have to get up and return to my seat and the whole assembly would see my tear streaked face. I apologized to the preacher after the service and he just dismissed the whole thing as nothing. It was something to me and apparently is still strong in my memory.
In those days Easter wasn’t forbidden in school so we usually had school programs where we reenacted or retold the biblical lessons. The Monday right after Easter most of us wore our Easter outfits to school to show off. Still, for those that survived, they had to come off the minute we got home.
It’s a funny thing when you think about it. The Bible encourages throughout its pages the idea of remembering. Sometimes it’s events like Passover, or the Lord’s Supper. It is fitting that we remember the resurrection every year, but to true believers we ought to celebrate the resurrection every day. That is the promise of Easter and the foundation of our faith.