It’s Easter Sunday.
I’m sure if you’re of Christian extraction or had Jewish parents who weren’t at all observant and had this need to keep up with the Jonases, you probably celebrated some semblance of the holiday. I wonder though if you ever experienced any of the same things I did? How similarly parallel could our lives have been if we grew up in the same time period, but with me in Texas and you, say in Wilmington, Delaware??
Well, before I get it into the ways and means of all my childhood Easters, I have a confession to make. It’s something I’ve never told a single soul. Perhaps, I’ll be hell bound for saying this, but of ALL the holidays in the pantheon of holidays in Christendom, this is my least favorite.
It has nothing to do with the traditional meaning of Easter; it’s just that it’s my least favorite holiday and for a lot of different reasons. For starters, the time of year in which Easter happens to fall. Easter was always least comfortable holidays. It’s the only Springtime holiday and I never liked the Spring. Plus, in South Texas, that meant it was almost always hot, humid and sticky by the time the Easter Bunny would make his annual egg bearing sojourn to the front or backyards of well-behaved children everywhere.
It was also uncomfortable because as a Catholic, that meant a marathon Good Friday afternoon mass that droned on and on and on.
Mother was/us a Protestant but when she and my father married, she agreed to raise the kids Catholic. So, Dad did all the religious wrangling with his three semi-beautiful daughters. But he had the patience of a paramecium, so that usually meant we’d stay for maybe just an hour or so at the Good Friday, four-hour God-A-Thon.
Then, by late Friday afternoon, the family started arriving and mother would get busy with Easter Sunday dinner and making sure Kathy, Karol and I had our Easter finery ready to go for the big eccliastical Easter parade in church on Sunday morning.
We always got new clothes for Easter. Pastels, floral prints, new patent leather Mary Janes (white…ALWAYS white) new socks with lace, gloves and of course, hats. This was pre-Vatican II, so every female still covered her head before entering the House That Pope Paul built. I hated wearing hates. Gloves were hot, too.
This photo isn’t one of my sisters and me, but it could’ve been. It’s a perfect depiction of what the Sisters Kendrick would have looked like on any given Easter morning prior to 1967. And it’s fairly accurate in terms of birth order and age difference, too. I’m the youngest. Mother never dressed us alike (thank God) but our Easter dresses, at least in the early 60’s, would have (like with these dresses) been worn with stiff crinoline petticoats underneath. You could hear us walk for miles.
I think Mother would come with us to Easter Sunday Mass every once in a while. I think that was because Catholics went to church earlier and got out earlier and Mother needed to get back home in time to fix the family feed which always fell in her lap.
And this was another reason for liking the Easter holiday the least: the food.
The menu was fairly consistent from year to year and rarely wavered and I found that boring. It was ham and scalloped potatoes; green beans in a liquor seasoned with salt pork and a few onions, a relish tray (olives, pickles, pickled okra and those little corn on the cobb things) and of course–the staple: store-bought brown and serve rolls which I’ve always hated. We begged mother to try that new Pillsbury invention called the ‘crescent roll’, but nooooooooooooooo.
It was always nasty tasting, mass-produced brown and serve rolls. Why? Tradition and ease. Open the wrapper; throw ’em on a cookie sheet; pop them bad boys in the oven where they would brown and you’d then serve ’em. Easy? Perhaps, but they tasted horrible. I mean, nothing goes better with Easter ham than dicalcium phosphate and diammonium phosphate.
Dessert was always a yellow cake with white frosting and on top of that, green tinted coconut to simulate grass and jelly beans nestled in “the grass”, to simulate colored Easter eggs.
The cake looked a lot like this:
As a child, I didn’t like coconut, so dessert was ruined for me and also as a kid, I wasn’t into really sweet candy and I got candy for Easter, but hardly ate any of it.
We had Peeps when I was a kid, but I only remember the classic yellow chicks. I think I got the occasional Peep for Easter. Hated ’em, but invariably, they’d be in my Easter morning presentation and next to a hollow, milk chocolate bunny, a variation of jelly beans (which I hated), M&Ms (which I liked), would be these horrible, nasty tasting candy circus peanuts.
I never understood the correlation between these obvious Soviet attempts of confectionary Cold War brain-washing and Easter, but I always got them and I always disliked them. They always ended up in the trash, still in their cellophane wrappers.
I also remember these HORRIBLE marshmallow eggs, but they weren’t chocolate. They had this nasty, hard uber sweet fondant-like exterior which covered an even sweeter marshmallow center. I’ve scoured the Internet trying to find these things, but couldn’t find a photo anywhere, much less what they were actually called other than “Diabetes Starters”. I can tell you though that in my world, these candy eggs kept the candy peanuts and Peeps company at the bottom of the trash can.
We always got a stuffed animal. Usually a rabbit, but not always. Bears, elephants, lambs, ducks and a stuffed St. Bernard (which I still have) complete with a rubber liquor barrel attached to his collar. One year, Karol and I received stuffed caterpillars.
But the one thing I never got, but always wanted was one of those beautiful sugar eggs. Like so:
These always fascinated me with their fairy tale-like panorama views inside. How were they made? It boggled my mind. I desperately wanted one of these eggs each April , but I never got one. Consequently, Easter always ended with me feeling completely unfulfilled and wanting. It has, in some ways, bugged me ever since childhood
Even today there are times when I feel out of sorts; as if I’ve forgotten something. I’ll check my car keys; make sure my wallet is in my purse and that I still have my ATM and credit cards, but something is still missing.
Oh well, if I think about life and the Biggest Picture of all, I come to terms with the fact that I’ve never had one of these eggs, fertilized then grown to majority, either.
But somehow, I think I’ll be OK.