Easter at our house was rather quiet this year. A virus had been making its rounds during the week, so our eggs didn't get colored until LATE Saturday night. By that time some of the eggs had already been eaten by impatient boys, and I had to boil a few more to have enough to color. We did make a serendipitous discovery: using crayons on still-warm eggs causes the wax to melt on, giving a more painterly effect (see the little bird below). The kids used crayons first and then dipped the eggs in the dye.
Partly thanks to all the inspiration among my blog friends, I did get together a few Easter decorations: a basket holding our collection of plastic eggs, the basket of real eggs, and an Easter lily -- I have never bought one before, but the scent is wonderful! The lemon pound cake is for dessert.
And I got two little bunnies for centerpieces:
If you look closely, you can see them on the table:
All of us but one went to church, and then came home. I had planned a good meal, which is quite a feat for me. I have a very hard time figuring out how to have a meal ready for when you get home from church when you are not home to fix it. As it was, it took all of my Saturday. But we had ham, a jello salad (that we call pink stuff :), peas, mashed potatoes, broccoli salad, and angel biscuits (below). In the picture you can just see a piece of my apron.
This is my wonderful apron I won from Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse. The apron made its Easter debut Sunday!
My efforts -- as probably is true for many of you -- towards making an Easter feast were motivated by the desire to form happy memories for my children, and even for my husband and myself. The resurrection is something to celebrate! But sometimes I feel like I'm at a disadvantage because we live so far away from family, so there is no one to get together with (or to share the cooking with). (And the virus prevented us from inviting anyone over this year anyway). Very different from my own childhood, when no relative was more than thirty minutes away.
My sister and I always had coordinating Easter dresses made by my mom, who was already an excellent seamstress even though she was only in her twenties. We lived up the street from our church, so we would walk to church in our finery.
After the service our family would drive the thirty minutes to my mom's parents for an Easter lunch. They lived out in the country on a small farm in a small house. I don't have memories of sitting around a fancily-laid table. There were so many of us we could barely fit in the house. My mom was one of five, plus my great-aunt Mabel would be there and other sundry relatives and friends, bringing food. I can remember as a kid one time having to eat while sitting on top of the washing machine there was such a crowd.
Because there were so many people we had to eat in shifts, and usually the women ate last. I didn't necessarily think that was fair since they had done all the cooking, but now I understand it. When everything is so chaotic -- even though it's a happy chaos -- it is much more relaxing to wait til everyone else clears out and then eat in peace. Under similar circumstances, that's what I do now.
And it's not like they were going to run out of food. Thinking about my "mamaw" -- as a lot of people in the south call their grandmas -- has always helped me to know that being a great cook and a gracious hostess has nothing to do with having the latest and the greatest kitchen or cooking equipment or fancy house at all. She had none of those things, yet you NEVER went to my mamaw's house that there wasn't something good to eat.
On Easter there would be ham, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, green beans, angel biscuits, jello salads, punch to drink, mashed potatoes, corn, some kind of cake, lots of stuff I can't even remember. (You can see I've tried to incorporate some of it into our family:) My mamaw would have made a lot of it, but every other grownup woman would also have contributed.
In the center of the table would be a bowl filled with colored eggs. And every grandchild would have an egg with their name on it. The name was written in wax before the eggs were colored. It was just a happy thing that we expected at my grandmother's on Easter. But now that I'm an adult -- older even than my grandmother was when I was born -- I think about my grandmother coloring those eggs when there were no little children at her house, writing all those names she loved on the eggs, and it makes me happy and amazed at her, and also humbled.
After everyone had eaten, my uncles -- who were in their late teens or twenties at this time -- would take the eggs out into the yard and hide them. For a long time there were only six grandchildren -- more came along later (some after I was grown) -- and we would go outside and find them, my mom helping my youngest brother. It was great fun, so much different from the gigantic egg hunts I see today, which are less about finding a hidden egg than grabbing up as many as you can from thousands laying on the ground.
In Tennessee's milder climate it was no problem to use the real eggs. We finally did get some plastic eggs for home use after we hid a real egg in the house and didn't find it until months later. (Amazingly, it never did stink!). My siblings and I loved to play this, and we would take turns hiding and finding eggs for weeks. For my children, growing up in south Georgia, hiding real eggs outside would be crazy -- the fire ants would be on them before anyone could find them. So they only hid plastic ones.
Anyway, those are some of my Easter memories. My husband (who was the youngest grandchild) remembers his grandmother making him a bunny cake, in the shape of a bunny with coconut icing. So he has a happy memory, too.
The true meaning of Easter is Jesus being raised from the dead. Hallelujah! That is what I really want my children to internalize from Easter. At the same time, surrounding these truths with little things -- like good food, flowers, traditions -- that make children (even older children) feel loved and secure......hopefully those things will reinforce the true meaning and not distract from it. I love the quote from C.S. Lewis:
"Chocolate eggs and Jesus risen!"