Another rainy Easter. I lived in too many places as a child to do any extensive research (Google) on how many egg hunts were moved indoors because of poor weather, but it seems to me there were quite a few. Today I’m feeling a bit nostalgic as I keep wandering to the windows to stare out at the rain from the cozy confines of the house, convinced I can see measurable growth of all the green, green plants I visited in the sunshine only yesterday. The muddy racoon prints I discovered on the hot tub cover have been washed away, where it must have ventured for a drink from the ever-present-ever-growing puddle that forms up there.I was planning to visit my parents, but called to find them having a late, leisurely breakfast (even after mine!!! an Easter miracle!!) and they told me they were just going to snuggle-down for the day, no plans whatsoever and they sounded pretty pleased with that, so I happily followed suit and am at home with book and cats and general memories of Easter’s past.
Girly-girl dresses. Usually pink, usually stiff, with high poky collars and long sleeves with elastic you could pluck at and snap back onto your wrist in a most satisfying manner. Accessorized with scuffed white shoes, ruffly anklets and a headband made of crinkly polyester flowers and hard plastic teeth digging into my head.
Egg Hunts. Racing my brother (my sister was already too old by the time my memories of these come into focus) around the yard to see who could find them fastest, who could gather more. Almost all ended up in the same bowl in the fridge anyway, to be chopped into potato salad, but it was all about the thrill of the hunt! (One year my brother slipped a raw egg in with the bowl of boiled ones before they were colored, but the joke backfired, much to my delight, when he forgot and later cracked one on his bristly head to open it and ended up with egg yolk running down his forehead.) My dad had a gift for hiding the eggs out in the open, in plain sight, where you’d still never find them. He worked in military intelligence; need I say more?
Peter Cotton Tail. The weeks leading up to Easter the house would ring day and night with me singing this song. The thought of Peter hopping down the bunny trail with candy, candy, candy just because I put out a basket was intoxicating! It was even easier than Halloween!
It was always about the eggs, bunnies and basket-booty to me, and a nice brunch or dinner with family. We were never that family who only went to church for Christmas and Easter; we just didn’t go at all. What religious roots I have is entirely due to the year and a half when we lived near my mother’s parents and I accompanied my grandmother to church and attended a bit of Sunday school. But at that time to me the religious Easter consisted of punching out perforated cardboard, then folding the pieces to form an outcrop of boulders that had a tab sticking out and when you pulled on the tab one of the rocks slid aside and—out popped Jesus! Surprise! Resurrection! He was just dying for a hat…
Greenacres Christian Church was where I encountered my pop-up Jesus, a classic looking little place in the Spokane Valley where I would most likely be curled up on the pew next to my Grandma lulled to sleep by the pastor’s voice, my head nestled onto her substantial girdled-for-church lap. She loved all the hymns, always singing loud and proud, and slightly off-key. I joined the choir myself, spending most of the time trying to look angelic, forming the perfect oval with my mouth, imagining my halo glowing. It was here I watched my sister get baptised, and realizing with a shock as she rose from the baptismal tub, dripping wet, cleansed of all her sins, that you could see (everything) right through her white sheet-like robe.
I loved helping Grandma fill tiny glasses, (what looked to me like shot glasses–I was from a Navy family who liked to entertain, after all) with grape juice for communion, balancing them in round silver trays with holes that were made just for them. I remember standing next to her on a stool at her kitchen sink, trying to imitate her deft snick, snick, snick with the vegetable peeler as she prepared mounds of potato salad for the church picnic.
Grandma’s been gone a while now, but days like today she reappears in my memory in her special church hat and all her matronly girth, gently pushing me in front of her to greet the pastor, “You remember Marlene’s girl?” And for Easter dinner I always have a strong desire to bake ham, doctor-up some canned baked beans and put together a potato salad from leftover Easter eggs. It’s tradition. So, if you’ll excuse me, Grandma and I have some potatoes to peel.