What makes Easter sweet for you? Are you still following time honored family traditions or have you created your own? Why or why not?
In my memories, Easter was a sweet time of anticipation and excitement. It was synonymous with the word “hunt.” Not only did we hunt for Easter eggs, but for our Easter baskets. These were a big wicker or straw basket, wrapped in colored cellophane. Usually red, pink or purple cellophane, but sometimes yellow which was not my favorite. The cellophane was transparent for the most part, but when there is a lot of it and it’s all gathered together, it becomes much harder to see through. It kept the contents deliciously mysterious. Often, my sisters would rip into theirs, but I would slowly untie the satin or grosgrain ribbon, savoring the moment, and slowly and carefully unwrap cellophane to clearly view the contents.
There was always a large chocolate bunny, usually hollow but every now-and-then it would be solid. When it was solid chocolate I always felt so privileged and sometimes it was white chocolate which was, and is still, my very favorite. Other usual inclusions were…jelly beans in bright colors; gooey-gritty marshmallow peeps that looked like little bright yellow chicks; pale eggs with a chocolate coating between the hard candy shell of robin’s egg blue (but speckled) and the delicious malted center-my absolute favorites still. Another candy, but one that was always a little disappointing, were the foil wrapped chocolate eggs. I always expected them to taste like Hershey Kisses, but they never did. They had a different chocolate flavor and felt a bit waxy in my mouth. Perhaps they were better than no chocolate at all, but since I don’t continue to buy them for myself as an adult, perhaps they weren’t. Then there were other assorted candies and chocolates that changed from year-to-year which made it so much inspect the contents of that basket every year. Quite often there would be little toys like a small very bouncy ball, jacks, a deck of cards, a small box of crayons, etc.
After we had found all the rabbit eggs, we dined on them for breakfast with a side of candy before we got ready for church. Going to church on Easter Sunday meant a new outfit for Easter. That was always a big deal. A pretty dress with new shoes, tights, and an Easter hat, coat and gloves. As I got a little older, I was also able to get a small purse to hold tissues, gum, and perhaps a few pieces of candy if I was sneaky enough to get them from my Easter basket into the purse without being seen by the grownups. One year my hands didn’t grow enough and the gloves from the past Easter still fit me so I didn’t get new gloves that year. It was very disappointing. I think about that now and realize how very fortunate I am that I had a childhood that allowed the luxury of such a petty thought.
I remember twice when I was all decked out in my pretty Easter garb and there was snow outside. Once, I had to take off my pretty shoes and wear my old winter boots which just ruined the look of my ensemble. And once, I cried or whined so loud I was allowed to wear my pretty Easter shoes in the snow. Not only were the shoes ruined but the misery of wet stockings and cold feet still remains with me even through 50 years of additional memories.
When I began my own family, the only thing my children searched for were the bunny eggs, the baskets were not hidden, and I think half-way through their childhood, even the cellophane went by the wayside. With four children, it just got too hard to find good hiding places for four baskets. My children almost always got bubbles, a new box a crayons, sometimes a new coloring book, and Silly Putty and kites. I continued the kite tradition for years after they became adults, but as we go into retirement, I don’t do that anymore.
With the addition of in-laws, now we often share the holidays with the other parents/grandparents so we are only all together on Easter every-other-year. Those living close enough usually drop in every year at different times, but we aren’t all together every year any more. The first few years were really hard. I learned that I don’t like sharing holidays. Fortunately, I think I’ve outgrown it now. I love hosting all the kids and grandkids here but I’m equally okay with them going to the other side’s family functions. They have traditions they are trying to maintain also, and then, there are the traditions the new families are trying to establish for themselves.
This year was a hit-or-miss affair. It began with only three adults planning to attend yet through the day, we ended up with everyone here, albeit at different times. And wouldn’t you know it?!?!?! This was one of those few Easter’s when it was warm enough to do an Easter egg hunt outside and we hadn’t planned on it.
Such is life it seems, full of last minute changes to plans that have been in place. A shifting, ebbing, flowing reality prone to change without notice. What is the term the French use? Ah yes…c’est la vie. 😉