Friday, April 10, 2009
Packed away in a box marked “Easter,” are four baskets made of woven wooden slats. When they were new their colors sang together in bright spring hues of purple and yellow and pink. Now the colors are faded to soft memories and one basket is missing its handle. Each one still holds its nest of green, shredded paper “grass,” matted now and permanently indented with egg-shaped hollows where, years ago, heavy, handmade chocolate eggs decorated with swirls of pastel flowers lay in wait for Easter morning. There is a small crocheted chick in each basket. They used to snuggle over hardboiled eggs that had been dipped in colored water until the shells turned pink or green or heavenly blue
On Easter morning there were decorated, hand-blown eggs, the fragile shells painted with tiny skipping bunnies or miniature bouquets of flowers. There were also small, foil wrapped chocolate eggs, soft, sugary marshmallow Peeps, a handful of jellybeans scattered like fragments of a rainbow, and always a small toy—a plastic yellow chick that, when pressed down, laid a tiny white egg, a wind-up bird that hopped frantically about on stiff little legs, a gracefully sculptured rabbit painted robin’s egg blue with the faintest bit of pink blushing its long, delicate ears.
When I was a child, there was an exciting newness to Easter morning. New clothes were bought especially for Easter Sunday church services and the soles of new shoes had to be scuffed. Finding the carefully hidden Easter baskets was part of the excitement. It was the only morning I was allowed to have candy for breakfast. Dinner was traditional, too. Glazed ham alternated each year with roast lamb and there was fresh asparagus and a coconut covered cake baked in Memere’s cast iron lamb mold.
Even after they all went off to college, my kids would still come home for Easter dinner, and though the holiday had long since ceased to hold any religious significance for me, I clung to certain rituals. Early on Sunday morning the kids would drift sleepily into the kitchen, fetch cups of coffee and ask, just as they had when they were small, “Did the Easter Bunny come?” Then they would set off in search of their baskets, the same ones they remembered from early childhood. The Bunny never disappointed them. This year, however, with all my children far away and the grandchildren with plans of their own, the baskets will stay packed away in the box marked “Easter.” It is a landmark of sorts, the same way Christmases and birthdays away from home become milestones in the process of growing up. But, the baskets will keep, just as the memories have.
photo credit: www.bunnyrabbit.com