Movin' on with Nellie: Easter, a time of second chances

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

Easter is one of my favorite holidays with the kids. They get to run loose, and we always have our family and loved ones all around us! – Camila Alves, model.

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 lilac or 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 jelly belly beans, they’d dress and drive to St. John Lutheran Church.

Six-year-old Edna remembers how her mother would sew her clothes when she needed. 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 4 and 5, she recalls going to St. John 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.

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.

Daisy’s memories are of hunting colorful, hard-boiled eggs on Easter with baskets in hand and darting through the yard to find one, two, three, four eggs and more. Singing and praying in the stained-glass church was made a special moment with the bells ringing as members gathered in the pews.

A dramatic memory from Easter for Nellie was returning from church and warming herself by the fireplace. Her cousin Jerry, about 8 years old then, said, “Don’t stand so close to the fire, Nellie.” Defiant at 4 years old, like she was, she insisted on being as near as she wanted to warm her legs under the taffeta dress — filled out with two petticoats.  Then like a lightening hit, her dress, waist-length hair and back combusted. She ran and Jerry yelled, “Drop and roll. Drop and roll.” He tried to grab her; but she darted around the couch as the flames kept growing. Finally, Jerry tackled her, rolled her in the braided rug and snuffed out all the flames. For a few years, family noted scars on her back from the ordeal and a shorter haircut. She knew that Jerry saved her that Easter.

Like Reba says, for so many of us, Easter is a second chance to breath Spring air, to forgive ones loved ones and even ourselves. It’s also a time, like Camila says to enjoy the innocence of happy children chasing eggs and filling their baskets. Easter, like every day, is what we make of it.  Start anew; rebuild a career; share simple joys and deep beliefs. Oh happy day!

— Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]