The festivities started on Good Friday. My mother made us fast until noon and we weren’t allowed to eat meat for the rest of the day. As a child, I didn’t understand why my mother was torturing us like this. All I knew was that I really wanted a bowl of Lucky Charms and I couldn’t have it. We’d spend the rest of Friday and Saturday searching for the perfect Easter outfits. My sister would get a puffy dress complete with gloves and a bonnet and I’d get a sharp three piece suit and some shiny shoes.
On Easter morning, my mother had another way to torture us: The Sunrise Service. We had to get up at 5am on Sunday morning in order to get to the church service by 6am. To this day, I cannot tell you what happened during those services because I was always half-asleep. After the service, we’d have a huge breakfast buffet. The food was so good that I almost made up for having to wake up that early.
For most people, that service would have completed their Easter worship experience. Not our family. We had to attend the “real” worship service at 10am. This is the service where people who never set foot in a church the rest of the year piled in by the legions and we always had to scramble to find additional seating to accommodate them. The deacons filled the sanctuary with folding chairs, benches, and stools and the pastor, who lived next door, brought over some of his personal furniture.
Watching the people march into the sanctuary wearing their finest Easter outfits was always a joy. I’d look across the congregation and see an ocean of lacy dresses, big hats, and fine suits. The service began with a few hymns followed by the Children’s Easter Recital. During the program, all of the kids gave Easter speeches which consisted of Bible verses that we had to memorize. Toddlers had to memorize short passages such as “Jesus wept” while the older kids had to memorize longer passages such as The New Testament. I remember how nervous I felt the first time I had to say my speech. I managed to make it through without a hitch, but many kids weren’t as lucky. Several kids stood frozen when it was their turn to speak. Adults tried to give the kids their cues, but they couldn’t utter a word. Many kids were reduced to tears. Of course you had those kids who were natural performers and dazzled the audience with their soliloquies.
After church, we were allowed to open our Easter baskets and chocolate covered bunnies. We ended the day with my mom’s cooking a huge Easter feast complete with baked ham, pot roast, and creole dishes.
Easter for my kids is much more subdued. Although we do spend several hours at church on Easter morning, no one has to wake up at the crack of dawn to attend service. When we return home from church, the kids tear into their Easter candy and we have an Easter egg hunt. Later in the afternoon we have an Easter meal with our extended family where the kids are loaded with more candy and Easter baskets.
Easter will always be a special holiday for me not only because of it’s religious significance to my family, but also because my daughter, Nee, was born 10 years ago on the night before Easter. Her birth will always be the second Easter miracle that I celebrate.
Question: What are your Easter memories?