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EASTERS OF YORE
13 April 2009
My mother commented at dinner tonight that it sure didn't seem like Easter. And she was right, of course. Instead of the huge family dinner, it was dinner for four -- herself, me, Peach and Bob.
There was no grace before dinner. She hadn't been able to go to church in the morning. Nobody hunted for Easter eggs and other than one small Easter lily (which I picked up at Safeway last week) and a couple of cards people had sent, you would hardly know that it was any sort of a holiday.
Why is this dinner different from other dinners?
I remember the Easters of my youth, when I believed in the Catholic Church and the Easter Bunny. How different it was then.
Easter was the time when my mother always bought a new hat. I wish I had photos of more of them, but she was definitely a "hat person."
There were big ones and small ones, pastel ones, feathered ones, lace ones, silly ones...whatever. There always had to be a new hat for Easter.
And of course we always had to have new outfits (and hats) too!
In the photo on the far right, Karen and I both were wearing brand new outfits designed especially for us by a dressmaker named Olga Gayno (that's probably spelled wrong). How I remember that when I was so young, I don't know. The boy in the first picture is our neighbor Stephen.
The Easter Bunny had a hard time in our house too, since it's difficult to hop down a big light well. I guess I always imagined that he was like Harvey, a Pooka, who was invisible and could go wherever he wanted, impediment or not.
My E.B. fantasies were shattered the year I figured out that my father, who was giving us hints of where to look seemed to know where everything was hidden. Thinking I was being very wise, I whispered in his ear "Thank you!" and he answered "Well, now that you know about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, don't spoil it for Karen."
Talk about big shocks! I might have figured out the Easter Bunny, but I hadn't yet had the chance to think about it and let sink in that if there was no magical bunny who hid hard boiled eggs in the cushions of our living room couch, perhaps there was no fat man in a red suit parking his reindeer outside the penthouse of the building where our flat was so he could leap down this narrow grey opening between our building and the next building.
I still can feel the shock and sense of betrayal I felt in that on instant!
We always picked my paternal grandparents up and took them to Mass on Sundays, especially Easter Sunday. Then we would take them back to their house. My mother and Nannie always split the holidays, my mother always taking Christmas and Nannie taking Easter, so we would be back at their house in the afternoon for dinner.
After Walt and I had our own family, I carried on a lot of the traditions, only we had a yard where the Easter Bunny could hide eggs (Ned confessed today, when he and Marta stopped by en route to Walt's brother's house where Walt was having dinner with his brother and in-laws) that they would scope out the yard before coming downstairs each Easter to see how many hidden eggs they could spot to give them a running chance.
For many years in the beginning there were Easter Bunnies for each kid in their baskets. One year I hit the jackpot at the local supermarket and got HUGE bunnies for Ned and Jeri (Paul wasn't born yet) for about $5. That pink bunny was one of Jeri's bed buddies for several years.
(That's also what "Delicate Pooh" looked like when he was still fairly new!)
But there were no hidden eggs or anything else remotely resembling Easter about today. I drove my mother's car down to her house around noon and spent the afternoon giving her monetary contributions whenever she won another game of 65 (Bob declared bankruptcy and decided he was going to quit unless he got a bailout).
We had the traditional ham dinner, but it was a ham dinner like every other ham dinner. Still, the tradition of spending a holiday with the people you love was still there. Jeri called at some point so we got to talk with her and Phil. And, as mentioned above, we had a nice visit with Ned and Marta (and their dog, The Bouncer, who had very interesting interactions with Peach and Bob's dogs, Sophie and Tess)
When Walt had finished celebrating Easter with his brother, and they broke out the karaoke machine and started to sing, he came down to my mother's to pick me up and we came home to some hungry puppies.
Somehow, though it was a very pleasant day, it just isn't the same
without all the trappings of a special holiday.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Tess trying to figure out how Bouncer managed to steal her piece of rawhide!
MILES TO NOWHERE: 104 miles