My earliest memories of Easter are of Dad buying extra eggs and the buy of dye kits with the dissolvable color tablets and wire egg holder. He would then gather my older brother and me into the kitchen to do Easter eggs. Some eggs were left plain for the plastic decals that got shrunk onto the eggs in boiling water. We also filled up plastic colored eggs. Our Dad hid these around the house before we woke on Easter morning. Mom put together the Easter baskets, with us kids, filled with all sorts of candy goodies and the hard-boiled eggs got added the following morning. All this was really fun to me as a young kid, to my brother too.
It was also the time when my paternal grandparents sent small checks to my brother and me to buy a new Easter outfit to wear for a new family picture and for church. Since my brother and I were still growing out of our clothes on a regular basis, this was extra special for us. In anticipation of getting the checks I would go to Sears and look for dresses, shoes, or an accessory to wear. I did not have to worry about a bonnet as I preferred to keep wearing the simple white one my Mom got me.
At the time I focused on the fancier dress and all the other preparation for Easter rather than the religious aspect. This is not to say I ignored it. I didn’t. I paid attention. As a small child I just preferred the fun aspect of Easter compared to the sad, depressing religious scriptures.
The next best thing to the clothes and the preparation time for Easter was the family meal. The drives in Dad’s station wagon or Mom’s Colt Vista to see my Dad’s parents in southern New Jersey and the chats we had or just listened to the radio were fun. We remained in our Easter outfits so our grandparents would get to see us in them in person. Sometimes we brought an Easter photo too as a gift.
At my grandparents’ house my grandmother cooked in the kitchen and ahead of time prepared vegetables and dip for us to snack on. Some years my grandfather cooked outside on his grill which was always a wonderful treat. Corn on the cob on the grill is heavenly and so is Italian sausage and chicken. The trade-off was watching whatever my grandfather wanted which was always golf. He was big on golf. He also liked football and baseball. If we stayed into the evening and it was a weekday we watched Wheel of Fortune, my grandmother’s favorite game show, then once Jeopardy started airing that was her other favorite show to watch as well.
Today the family still gets together for Easter but since we moved to Indiana over a decade ago it is just my parents, me, my brother and his family. And I buy no more new outfits or accessories for each new Easter. My brother and his wife have bought a new outfit for their daughter for Easter taking up the tradition and they do Easter family photos too. Mom and Dad host the Easter family meal in the afternoon and we no longer stay together for hours. Now it is just two or three hours and we get together in the daylight hours and leave in the daylight hours. In some ways I miss the old days and in other ways I think the change caused my past memories of Easter to become more special and I think this is a good thing.