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©April 2001

Carol Jane Remsburg



In Your Easter Bonnet















With all the frills upon it . . .  Well, that's how the song goes.  And trust me, it really used to.  Years back, Easter wasn't just a religious holiday; it was a parade of your very best.  This event was to show your best attire and manners for the whole year.  If you worked it right, then others might forget that Christmas debacle where you smashed the punch bowl, which covered old Mrs. Mills with such a mess.  You might even be forgiven if you looked good and your manners were better.  Sometimes, that even happened.


From the late 50's and well into the mid 60's, this was an annual spring rite—The Easter Passage.  Wherever you lived, you went home, arrived with the family, and went to the family church for perusal by the elders and all attendees.


Trust me, every mother with a young child over-spent her six-month grocery budget to ensure that her children where decked out to the max.  For the next 6 months, we ate hotdogs, codfish, and lots of casseroles—with not much in them.  Just to get the "nod" or a "smile" from one or two of the old biddies seemed to make it all worth Mom's efforts.  Now, years later, I know my mother wasn't alone in her trials.

For all those years, I recall nothing but discomfort and threats of dire dismay to any bodily part that didn't tow the line.  I could be pinched upon a moment's notice so severely that I might die from shock and never utter a sound.  Mom would have killed me if I had.  But then, often she was back playing the organ in the church.  Me, rotten little kid, was closeted with my dearest Grandma who, on occasion, might pull a full body smother which could be considered an intense "hug" by any onlooker to keep me within the realm of decorum. 


When I was little, church was fun, but it was also tedious.  There was Sunday school which was just "okay."  I always felt we were missing out on what was really going in during the service.  I found out later that the service was nice, it was soothing, it was uplifting, but I wasn't "missing" anything.  Once I hit my early teens, I opted for the choir with my grandmother—they suffered horribly with me because I couldn't and still can't sing a lick. 


Ever have six women, with good, strong, clear voices, attempt to drown you out—including your own grandmother?  Well, they did—and they did it with love—not just a purpose.  They were awfully nice ladies.  They never minded having me in the choir until I fainted on one near Easter Sunday morning.  I literally fell over and I thought the congregation was going to riot.  I disrupted everything and was horribly embarrassed over what turned out to be an inner ear infection.  I can guarantee you that this gathering, the 10 AM service with all of the blue-haired set never forgot it.  It was more commotion than they'd seen in decades.  Poor Father Etherton!  He was so sweet and I know that I frightened them badly.  When we figured it all out, I'm still not sure that a few didn't think the episode was a possession or conversion that they witnessed.  They'd never admit it being upright Episcopal little ladies, yet I'm assured they "thought" it just the same.  The scandal of gossip was rampant for months.  Geez!


I've always been able to be relied upon to cause a ruckus of one sort or another.


Still, those days of prickly pink dresses, gloves, purses, and shiny Mary Janes never left me.  Easter was fun with our early morning treats and egg hunts, but the real treat was for Mom.  She did everything in her power to make the day and make us shine.  We three girls only shone because she made us and because Grandmom promised us more treats later.  Little girls aren't always full of sugar and spice and everything nice—more often we are little devils in disguise.  Mother managed to tame us once or twice a year.


In a few more days it will be Easter again.  I'm not ready yet.  I've still an outfit to purchase for my little darling—aged 10—who I hope I can corral into being a "little lady" by Sunday.  There are other gifts and treats for the family to be given.  Why am I not ready?  I wish I knew.


However, Easter is coming and somehow I'll be ready for the grandeur, the display, the gifts, the family warmth and love, and that "nod" of approval that I'll be waiting to get.  Yes, now I'm no longer squirming in discomfort from my pink, stiff dress.  I'm my mother hoping that all will end well—just don't have a full punch bowl anywhere near Erin.  I can't dive and reach as well as I used to.


Happy Easter to all!  May your day be bright and make memories like I have.


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