I was never a fan of Lent as a kid. I just didn’t get the concept. It has never made any sense to me that God wants people to suffer, or go without. Which isn’t to say the idea of divine retribution didn’t scare the hell out of me; I guess I walked a thin line as a kid. Mostly I followed all the rules just in case they were right.
Holy Saturday night was spent around the kitchen table. On that table were little paper cups half filled with colored water of dark green, blue and red into which we would slowly lower a hardboiled egg balanced on a thin metal halo, an egg that would inevitably plop into the water at the last second, splattering dyed liquid all over us and the table. After a minute or two of carefully watching the egg change color, we would fish it out of the paper cup using that metal halo and ever so gently lay it onto a paper towel. When all the eggs were colored, or when we grew bored with the process, whichever came first, we would wander away into the parlor to watch TV before going to bed.
The Easter Sundays of my childhood were second best only to Christmas Day. Not only was there candy all over the house, not only could we eat as much of that candy as we wished, but I loved the clothes. A lot of my wardrobe as I grew up was hand-me-downs from my older cousins. But for Easter, I always got a new dress and it wasn’t one of those plaid, back-to-school dresses. Oh no, they were magical dresses. After a long, dark winter of wearing nothing but a heavy maroon uniform, Easter brought dresses with wide satin sashes and lace trim. Those dresses were always soft pastels; greens and pinks and blues. Even if it was a cotton dress, the colors made it magical.
And shoes, dress shoes of black patent leather with straps and buttons and sometimes flowers; maybe white shoes, but always patent leather. I wasn’t a fan of hats, not that I didn’t like them; I just never liked how they looked on my head. Yet, every Easter Sunday I wore a new hat to church along with a fresh pair of white gloves holding on to a small shiny pocketbook. Inside that pocketbook was a small handkerchief; my favorite was the white one with blue flowers embroidered in one corner. Also in that pocketbook was my small contribution envelope that I would take out and drop into the collection basket as it passed by me during mass. Pinned to my shoulder was a small Easter orchid, surrounded by white lace that mom took out of the frig just before we left for mass. The corsage tickled my chin and as I write this I can imagine the flower’s sweet smell.
When we got home from mass we could eat as much candy as we wanted while mom was busy in the kitchen cooking an Easter ham AND I could wear my new dress all day long. My brothers wore suits on Easter Sunday, with long ties and white collared shirts and shiny shoes. They too wore their Easter clothes all day, minus the jacket, of course.
The religious celebration of Easter Sunday made more sense to me than the abstinence of Lent. The dark covers were removed from the Stations of the Cross and from the beautiful statutes of Mary and the Saints that lived in my church. Elegant white and gold linens were draped on the altar and the room was filled with the fragrance of fresh roses and lilies and carnations. In my memory, every candle in the church was glowing. Even the hymns that we sang were joyous and in celebration. Easter Sundays of my childhood, at least in my memory, were flawless.
That’s what I wish you this Easter of 2012. A magical and flawless day with your family and the people you love.