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Memories of Easters Past

Easter is tomorrow. The holiday means different things to different people depending how religious a person is or is not. Some people focus strictly on it being for kids with the Easter Bunny and Easter baskets filled with hard-boiled eggs that have been dyed an assortment of colors the night before. Baskets would also be filled with jellybeans, chocolate eggs, most likely some of those marshmallow peeps, and a variety of other goodies mixed in with some small toys or trinkets. Kids would wake up with an excitement similar to that of Christmas morning, in expectation of treats that only come around once a year.

If religion is important, these typical secular traditions might accompany the expected Easter morning service at your local house of faith. This might involve new dresses, bonnets, suits, ties, and spiffy, shiny new dress shoes. However, the new outfits are not the focus of the special day. As a child, Easter celebrations in my family definitely had a religious component, but what I think stands out more are the family traditions that revolved around Easter time.

I remember when I was growing up, we didn’t always have a lot of money. Often if there was a new Easter dress, it was most likely made by my mom. She had a knack for sewing that I’ve never mastered. We’d spend time with her at the fabric store flipping through the McCall’s Butterick, or Simplicity pattern catalogues to select just the right dress design, and then sorted through the maze of material trying to find the style or color or pattern of fabric that screamed, “pick me.” In addition to clothes being homemade, sometimes our Easter baskets were, too.

I remember one year my mom wanted to make these baskets using papier-mâché, balloons, and string. She let us help pick out the colors we wanted for our baskets. My string was multi-colored with purple as the base color. The table was covered with newspaper in preparation for the expected mess. She prepared the papier- mâché solution while we unwound the string from the tube. After the balloon was blown up to the right size, mom would secure a knot and help us start moistening the string in the solution and then wrapping it around and around and around and around and around the balloon, until it was almost completely covered.

After the soon-to-be-baskets were allowed sufficient time to dry, mom popped the balloon to remove it, and then cut a large-enough opening so that our new homemade baskets would be ready for the Easter bunny to fill them with grass and decorated eggs and other goodies. Sometimes there would be small toys like jacks, or a jump rope, or maybe small cars for the boys. I don’t remember exactly how old I was that Easter, but I remember thinking that homemade basket was the best thing in the world. I kept it for years and used on my dresser for trinkets and small treasures.

I think these memories are stronger than most years because this Easter is so different. We won’t be able to gather with family or attend service like we’ve always done. But the part that makes these memories so special is that they were made up of quality family time. So even if we can’t physically follow a normal Easter routine, I plan to get up in the morning, log on to Facebook and connect to The House’s Easter morning service, and then try to connect by phone or video with my children and other family members. Just because it has to be different, doesn’t make it any less a holiday.

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