“Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail, hippity, hoppity….”
As a granddaughter of a Methodist preacher, all of my early memories center around him, my grandmother Nammy and the parsonage next to the tiny church in Fountain Hill, Arkansas. Even thought I was very young, I vividly recall one Easter Sunday when two ladies visited his church. Pappy was in the pulpit, the ladies in the back, and as he preached they began talking to each other. Pappy spoke louder, as did they. Exasperated, Pappy sat down mid-sermon. The women continued chatting until they realized theirs were the only voices in the church and grew quiet. Pappy returned to the pulpit and said “if you’re finished, I’ll finish.” To my knowledge, that was their first – and only – visit.
A baby animal of some sort was a part of the holiday. For us it was usually a dyed chick. Karyn did get a duck one year – Monique – but that’s a story for a different blog, one on how I learned to look both ways while running in a parking lot. Anyway, Nammy let us go to the feed store and get chicks, knowing full well she would have them to raise – and to fry for some Sunday dinner. Mine was blue. It was love at first peep. Nammy put it in shoebox next to my bed, but that wasn’t close enough for me. I put the sweet little thing in bed with me, next to my heart, and promptly rolled over on it, smothering my precious chick. Over the past 12 years there have been numerous times when I mentioned it was legal to have chickens in the Galveston city limits and since we had room, we should build a coop and raise a few since there’s nothing better than fresh eggs. My pleas fell on deaf ears. Karyn would always tell me no and remind me I killed my last chicken. I was 4 years old! 4! When does the statute of limitations run out on that?
And when did simple baskets evolve into huge presents? It seems they’ve gone the way of the Homecoming mum in Texas: the bigger, the more elaborate, the better. There’s so much in them there’s no room for hunted eggs. On the subject of egg hunts: there is nothing worse than finding a dyed boiled egg days or weeks after the holiday. Hunted eggs in our family have now become candy filled plastic eggs, thank goodness! I'm probably the only person on the planet who does not like to dye eggs. I do, however, love chocolate bunnies (I always go for the ears first) and Cadbury eggs!
I remember Easters at my childhood church, Hawley Methodist Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Lilies filled the sanctuary and I can hear Mrs. Freeman's soprano voice belting out "Christ the Lord is Risen Today". Alleluia! New dresses, gloves, socks with ruffles, and oh, the Easter bonnets!
My favorite services, though, were those held at sunrise. I remember one in particular in the late 80s in Corpus Christi, held in a park on the bay. Something about that – the location, the presentation, the encompassing spirit - has stuck with me all these years.
Sometimes art is real life, like this Jimmy Buffett song: "I remember the smell of the creosote plant When we'd have to eat on Easter with my crazy old uncle and aunt.... Life was just a tire swing." ~ Jimmy Buffett
No creosote plant, but for years we would gather as a family at Bill and Becky's house - they had a great backyard where my nephew Kelly taught my kids the fine art of boffo ball (something like dodge ball, except he would always be throwing a nerf football at their heads while they tried their best to avoid a direct hit).
A tradition is ending for us this year: it’s time to pass the basket – I mean baton. Holidays in Galveston have always been at my place but we’ll be having Easter at Trailer Swift and Sabine Pleasure’s house. They have the perfect yard, lots of places to hide eggs and plenty of room for our family to gather. Maybe my girls will learn to play boffo ball with their crazy uncles the targets.
Sometimes change is good.
Life is just a tire swing.