Yesterday was Easter Sunday. Dr K and I celebrated by driving by a church on our way to the supermarket. With no small children (or any children, for that matter) in the house, and a unilateral decision to forego attending church service, Easter Sunday has become, well, just another Sunday.
As a child, it was a completely different matter. During Lent, that eternity before Easter Sunday when we were required to “give up” an earthly pleasure (usually candy, although we rarely GOT candy any time of the year, let alone during lent, thus making it an easy sacrifice), we were constantly reminded of the suffering and death and resurrection of Christ. Smudges of ash rubbed into our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, rosaries prayed every night, dried palm branches burned while going through the Stations of the Cross (the smoke taking our prayers to heaven, so our mother said, although we just liked the idea of parental consent to lighting something on fire), and fasting on Fridays.
Good Friday meant going to church, where all the statues of the saints and the Holy Family were shrouded in purple and everyone somberly striking their breasts, chanting “Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa”.
Easter Saturday was dress rehearsal, so to speak. Mom would bring out the hand-me-down Easter dresses and white shoes, having us girls try on the older’s last year’s get up to see if she could get by without buying anything new. This usually worked until we became adolescents and the different growth spurts called for new dresses, all around. We “Little Kids” always had to go to bed early on Saturday night. It wasn’t until I was 8 or 9 did I find out that the “Big Kids” got to dye eggs and hide them around the house after we had gone to sleep. Getting up on Easter morning, almost as early as on Christmas, we would find our cereal bowls ringing the dining room table, filled with green “Grass”, jelly beans, and those goddawful hard sugar eggs filled with soft sugar creme. I don’t recall any chocolates, let alone real Easter baskets. We would stuff ourselves with candy, hunt Easter eggs, then dress for church. It was inevitable; at least one of us would suffer the consequences of eating a breakfast of sugary goodness, and vomit in church.
When my own daughters were wee girls, Easter meant Sunrise Services at our local church. Stumbling out of bed at 5 am, rushing through egg hunts and candy overloading, we would arrive at church at 6 am, bleary-eyed but dressed in our Easter best. Again, some child (sometimes my own), somewhere in church, had eaten a basket load of candy and puked it up, usually during the sermon. That child would also be the first one in line for Easter Breakfast; ham, eggs, pancakes, coffee and juice, served in the church basement following services.
I miss those simpler, less commercialized Easters. Driving down the street, I watched people walk into church, men and little boys dressed in suits, women dressed in pastels, and girls in frilly dresses and white anklets and shoes. Some even wearing an “easter bonnet”. I know that many of them were planning an Easter breakfast or brunch afterwards with family, celebrating not only the death and resurrection of Christ but also the unofficial first day of spring. The air is lighter, the sky brighter, and tulips and daffodils blooming…I miss that. But I don’t miss the bleary-eyed early rising and traditional Easter vomit.