Easter baskets, eggs, jellybeans and Spring

Easter is very important to me. It is a second chance. – Reba McIntire, country singer.

Sonnie remembers her Catholic upbringing and donning new dresses and hats for Easter services. During Lent, her father would take her to mass at 6:30 a.m. She spent the day with her dad afterward, too. The valuing of the coming resurrection was always dramatized in her church when purple drapes hung over statues of the saints and Mother Mary until Jesus came back from death on Easter and the cloths were removed.

Wayne remembers coloring Easter eggs that he and his mom would dip in coloring before the Easter Bunny would show up.  At the 50s kitchen table, he’d have a pan of water, some vinegar and dozens of eggs. When the weather was sunny, his mom hid bunny eggs in the grass, under the cement bench, in the branches of the oleander bushes. If it was rainy, eggs were hidden throughout the house—on windowsills, on the couch, on a bookshelf, by the television or stereo. After ripping apart the Easter basket then munching chocolate bunnies and jellybeans, they’d dress and drive to St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Six-year-old Edna remembers how her mother sewed her new Easter clothes.  For Christmas one year she made a red velvet dress that was perfectly tailored. “It was so beautiful,” she said.  During WWII funds were scarce for everyday needs.  So, to Edna’s surprise, her mother let her pick out a dress from a Montgomery Ward’s catalog.  For Edna, a mail-order dress was “pretty exciting as looking your best at Easter was so important on this extra special Resurrection Day.”

Barbara’s memory of Eastertime includes the joy of discovering colored eggs in grass; the woven Easter basket packaged in cellophane enclosed huge solid chocolate bunny and toys.  Church on Easter was an excuse, she said, for fancy new clothes and pictures. After church, she remembers delicately unwrapping foil-covered chocolate eggs.  At the same time, she also wondered about that rabbit—how did the Easter Bunny get all those eggs?

When Mandy and her sister Kelly were four and five, she recalls going to St. John’s Lutheran Church on Easter morning then hunting Easter eggs at The Garten Verein in Galveston.  Afterward, Grandma stirred up pancakes, bacon and eggs.  Sometimes she would even have milk coffee – a touch of brew with loads of whole milk.

A dramatic memory from a Texas Easter for me at four years old was returning from church and warming myself by the rock fireplace.  My cousin Jerry, then a third-grader, cautioned, “Don’t stand so close to the fire, Nellie.”  Defiant like I was, I insisted on being as near as I could get to warm my legs under the taffeta dress—filled out with two petticoats.  Then like a lightning strike, my dress, waist-length hair and back combusted.

I ran and Jerry yelled, “Drop and roll. Drop and roll.” He tried to grab me; but I darted around the couch as the flames kept growing. Finally, Jerry tackled me, rolled me in the braided rug and snuffed out all the flames.  I always remembered that Jerry saved me that Easter.

Like Reba says, for so many of us, Easter is a second chance to breathe Spring air, to forgive one’s loved ones and even ourselves.  Oh, happy day!