The Colors of Easter

Mom, Grandmother and Aunt Lib

As a  little girl, fond of frilly, pretty things, I loved Easter most of all the holidays we celebrated. From the time my mother and her sister were small, a new Easter dress and shiny shoes with lace-trimmed anklets were a firm family tradition. Every year we’d get dressed up and ready for church and take pictures, usually with Grandmother’s flower beds as a backdrop. I always felt so pretty in my new dress, no matter how awkward I may have felt the rest of the week. Easter was special and filled with joy, within and without.

After breakfast and photos we’d go to church and sing all my favorite hymns. Easter hymns were all so joyful ad colorful like the flowers and the blue sky. I don’t think I ever sang as loud or with as much feeling any other time of the year. Even the sermons given at Easter seemed to always be filled with love and joy.  On those Easter mornings I always felt filled with  a sense of God’s love and a feeling of being part  of something so much greater than myself or even my small church congregation. I floated out of church and home on those Sundays, inspired to be more and to love more, happy just to be alive. Though many things in my spiritual life have evolved and changed since then, that deep sense of renewal in the Easter season remains. I remain thankful for this.

After church we’d go home to baskets filled with eggs we’d dyed a few days before, plastic eggs, jellybeans, small toys, a stuffed animal-usually a bunny or baby chick, and always a chocolate bunny to enjoy. The chocolate bunny kept coming to me for as long as my mother lived. The candy and toys were lovely but what I remember most now is how colorful everything was. From the brightly painted baskets to the soft, green, plastic grass to all the bright wrappers and ribbon. And let’s not forget Grandmothers endless array of holiday decorations throughout the house. All of Easter was saturated with vibrant, happy color.

While waiting for dinner, as family gathered, we’d hide the eggs. Not only plastic ones, sometimes candy filled, but also the real eggs would get hidden. They still smelled of vinegar and Paas egg dye tablets. As I found and held each egg I could relive the process of coloring them. From the clickety clack echoing sounds of the eggs in Grandmother’s white and red enamel pan as they were boiled and drained. White on white, soon to be gently dipped or dropped into the coffee cups full of dyes. Sometimes I wanted them to be smooth  pure pastel colors, sometimes I dipped and dipped until my eggs were as dark and saturated as they could get.  I just loved playing with the colors and the process. Just like in coloring the eggs, the joy of the egg hunt was in choosing the hiding places for them and later in the search to find the ones hidden for me. The joy was in the process.

Finally, dinner was served. There was always a ham, scored criss cross, studded with cloves, and glazed with a mixture of orange juice and brown sugar. Putting in the cloves was my job. Along with ham there were always sweet potatoes, sometimes mashed, but always covered with marshmallows and browned on top. Green beans that had been grown in her garden and canned or frozen the previous summer, corn, macaroni and cheese and brown and serve rolls were always served as well. Dessert was often a basic cake made special with white icing and colored coconut or sugar sprinkles to decorate it.  Sometimes there was pie. Pineapple or butterscotch, with lightly browned meringue peaks, Grandad’s favorites.

Life seems to move too fast for me to make it like that for my family now. It is difficult to slow down enough. But whatever I manage to do or not do to celebrate it, Easter will always be my favorite time of the year. If you are reading this, I wish you joy and a colorful springtime, filled with love and family-no matter how you celebrate the season.

My Mother, Paula, Grandmother, and Aunt Lib

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