Easter Past and Present

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Last Sunday was Easter – a day of rebirth and new beginnings. One of Spring blossoms, of fellowship, of celebration and honoring sacrifice. When I was young, Easter was a day of colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. A day of pastel outfits, anklet socks with ruffled edges and patent leather shoes. A day from which my sister and I took a small portion of the morning rushing around the house in search of tissues, mints and dimes to put in our Easter purses, the ones with the daffodil clasps, because we wanted them to be filled up like mom’s when we carried them to church.

It was a day of ham and sweet potatoes and green beans. Of taking an after lunch walk in all our finery because the weather was finally conducive, well usually anyway. And most of all, it was a day of family. Of saying thankful prayers and appreciating how blessed we were. When I think of Easter now, I truly think of rebirth and tulips and hope, but most of all I think of my mom. And then I think of how much I wish she was here to celebrate with. I also think of dad always insisting on a crudite platter at the Easter table, even though at the end of the meal we always put as much away as we had put out. It’s funny what I remember about holidays now.

This Easter, for some reason I still can’t fathom, I volunteered to go into the country club I work at for a few hours. I’m not sure why I did, but suffice it to say it was an experience in humility. Since my husband needed a few hours to sew up some April 15th accounting deadlines, we had turned down a few holiday invites. We decided that the two of us would celebrate Easter later in the day, so I had a free chunk of time. With it, I decided to help my friend, the Food and Beverage Manager who was short staffed that day.

I realized, after seeing all the families at the holiday brunch in their Easter finery, I had volunteered because I didn’t want too much time on my hands to long for Easter’s past. I didn’t want to miss my mom and dad or think about how to fill the void of “my” Easter bunny of so many long ago’s. I offered because I didn’t want to be sad about not being able to get up north to see my “little boy,” now a grown man, the boy I got to be the Easter bunny for, the same way mom had for me. Or about how much I loved taking him for his Easter outfit when he was young and even seeing how quickly he outgrew it each year.

I wanted to avoid the pit in my stomach if I reminisced about all the Easters when my siblings and I made our own individual piles of colored foil on the coffee table.  Foil from the now demolished chocolate eggs which had filled the crevices of each of our baskets and sometimes had to be untangled from under shredded grass. These baskets were always lined up in a row on the sideboard in the dining room, in order of our age – my oldest brother’s was always far left and my baby sister’s far right – each holding the exact same chocolate bunny.

Actually, the bunnies only started out the same on Sunday morning. By nightfall there were always marked differences. One or two would have been severely decapitated and others missing only small parts. Mine was always untouched at the end of the day, and for several afterwards because I liked to finish all the loose candy first. Actually, somehow I think I was trying to be different, to be kind to the chocolate figurine and to buy it some time.

Anyway, this Easter after I finished my “gig,” my husband and I went to celebrate our version of Easter. He had done his due diligence in his home office, leaving a few foil piles of his own from the basket I had left for him, and we went to play golf. We played 18 holes on what turned out to be a gloriously sunny afternoon and afterwards went for dinner at a local restaurant. We ate ice cream sundaes for dessert and followed them up with way too much chocolate back at home.

While we watched a bit of television before bed, I told him about the day. About how although the way I’d spent it had been an unusual holiday for me, I’d sincerely felt that I was of service. I told him about a conversation with Tom, one of my favorite members terminally ill with cancer. How we had talked openly and honestly about what was going on for him medically and how I had shared the largest bear hug I can remember having for ages. And finally about how after coming back from the dessert table with his plate piled high with cheesecake and petit fours, Tom had looked over and winked at me on his way back to his table. (I found out yesterday that Tom passed away Easter night and so, I was very glad I had been there to see him that day and to give him that bear hug).

And later, my husband and I went to bed on this Easter Sunday very full. Full of sweets and love and memories. Full of accomplishment. Full of gratitude (especially because of the perfect basket I’d received in the mail from my mother in law). Before he turned out the light, we each said, “I love you.” And then we decided that as much as the day had been blessed, next year we would both leave work for Monday, so that we could share the whole holiday with one another and with our family and friends.

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