I came to dislike shopping at an early age. I grew up in the 50’s, in Selma, Alabama where I attended the block-long First Baptist Church. Easter was right up there with Christmas on the holiday scale. It would begin two months ahead of the big day, with a trip to Hancock’s to pick out the fabric and pattern for my new Easter dress. My grandmother made all of my clothes back then, and Easter was her chance to pull out all the stops with pleats, French tucking, embroidery, lace and tulle. I was then, and remain firmly so, a ‘nature child’, so to speak, and all that stuff made me itch just thinking about it. I remember one year in particular, maybe when I was 11 years old. Granmama had made not only my dress but a matching ‘duster’ (it’s a southern thang, trust me!) to go over it. She must’ve really burned the midnight oil on that one. My mom bought a matching hat and white gloves and patent leather shoes to go with it all, so I was most likely the belle of the ball that year. My mom’s best friend was my Sunday school teacher, and she told my mother that upon being complimented by all my friends on my Easter finery that morning, that I had replied: “What? This old thing?” I’m sure it broke her heart, but I believe it was also the last year that I had to suffer the annual ritual.
Not only did I spend Easter mornings in new shoes that were too tight for my wide, flat feet that wanted nothing more than to be bare, I had to wear stockings, a garter belt to hold them up, a BRA, and a white carnation corsage (who’s big pin ALWAYS stuck me!) Note: I still haven’t forgiven my mom for telling the clerk in the JC Penney store OUT LOUD that ‘we need to look at bras’- I was mortified. Truly. Add to all this insult the added injury of having to not only spend Saturday night before the big day washing my hair, but having it put up in pin curls and then sleeping on those crossed ‘x’ bobby pins all night. And THAT fun included watching freakin’ Lawrence Welk with her while she pinned the curls. Needless to say, Easter was an ordeal for me. Oh sure, there was the usual basket with plastic grass and eggs, the requisite candy and jelly beans, which to this day I detest, but that wasn’t enough to erase the pain of it all.
Fast forward to present day: My daughters live away from here, so tomorrow I plan to sing in the church choir (by choice) then have good friends over for lunch, followed by a barge ride and planetarium show at Bays Mountain Park with them. No big ham to have to eat for the next week (I’m vegetarian) and no egg salad sandwiches will have to be made from the leftover dyed eggs either. Which reminds me: Every year my mom would buy that Pas egg decorating kit that required you to add vinegar and a dye tablet to little cups of water -you know, the kit that has the stunning eggs pictured on the box? But every year my eggs were never anywhere close to stunning. They might’ve been better described as ‘interesting’ at best. Sad perhaps. Gray instead of the lovely lavender as pictured. But never ‘stunning’.
But here’s the thing: In spite of it’s bad start for me, I enjoy Easter now. It’s a holy day that stirs in me a reverence for new life, rather than new clothes. New life, ranging from a friend’s baby girl born just this week to asparagus spears pushing up from the dark earth, all offer me the assurance that life goes on, and to everything there is a season. It’s a time that holds a certain sacredness for simple things like Lentil soup and strawberry shortcake for tomorrow’s lunch, making this season’s first pitcher of apple mint tea, and honoring my mom with a white carnation corsage and those jelly beans she loves. No need to dress up or shop-what a great holiday! Happy Easter to you and yours.
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