I started out tired on Easter morning, since I had gone to bed so late on Saturday night. We were, I admit, a little bit late for the "sunrise" service at 8:00, which I paid for dearly by missing my favourite Easter hymn, "Low in the Grave he Lay". How come we sing Christmas hymns for six weeks leading up to Christmas, but we only sing Easter songs one time, once a year? I guess it keeps me from getting sick of them, but I think I could handle a few more repetitions. We also sang "Because He Lives", which I think was written for the express purpose of making me cry. A whole verse about babies, and another whole verse about being ready to die? I couldn't make it through the last verse. I think that song will probably always remind me of my father. I guess it will be joining "His Eye is on the Sparrow", which reminds me of Grandma Silverbrandt, on the list of songs that I get too choked up to finish singing.
After the service was a really nice church breakfast that included the yummiest french toast casserole with a praline topping. Nothing redeems an early morning like a good breakfast. Oh yeah, and the resurrection of Christ. That's pretty redeeming, too.
This Sunday was the first time Jeremy and I went to a service in the actual sanctuary of our church. Because of a boiler issue, and facilitated by lower attendance numbers than when the sanctuary was built in the early 1900's, we have been meeting for our regular services in a big classroom in the one wing of the church that has heat. It was neat to be in the big sanctuary, which has much better acoustics and an overhead screen that is actually, well, overhead. But there was a certain appeal to the smaller, more intimate room. Either way, though, the church is the community, and we really love our community, whatever room we happen to be meeting in.
After church, there was a big family dinner at our house, our fourth family gathering in one week. It's a good thing I like Jeremy's extended family, eh? After dinner, I had to work, which I didn't really mind, because it's the first Sunday I've had to work, and I was still able to go to church and Easter dinner beforehand, so I wasn't going to miss out on any of the major Easter activities. We had a few busy points in the day, especially when 9 people came in all wanting frappuccinos at the same time, which takes time, because there were only two of us, and there are only two blenders, but it was generally a pretty slow day, and we even finished all of our closing stuff ten minutes early.
When I got home, I was going to go to a friend's Easter party, but instead, I got a phone call from my sister, with whom I ended up talking for an hour and forty-five minutes. It was really nice to talk to her, and in the end, it's probably better that we stayed home, since we'd had a busy weekend, and needed some down time. I also got to chat with my mom on instant messenger, and talked to Rachel on the phone for about an hour. I felt like a teenaged girl, with all the phone talking, but it was good to connect with people in a format other than print.
This was my first Easter with Jeremy's family, and it was very different from what I'm used to. It's funny, because I thought I would miss my childhood Christmas more, but we've done Christmas so many different ways over the years that I guess I never had the same ingrained idea of what I wanted Christmas to be like as I did for Easter. I guess a part of it, also, is that I was so pre-occupied with Passover this year that I didn't do any of my own Easter preparations, which probably would have helped the holiday feel more like what I'm used to. Next year, I'm totally buying plastic eggs and doing an egg hunt like I'm used to.
What was your Easter like growing up?
We would wake up early and head down to Parliament Hill for a city-wide, ecumenical, sunrise service. The Salvation Army band would play, and I would always get chills when the trumpeter would play that little transition bit in my favourite Easter song where it goes from being a somber funeral dirge to a chipper celebration that "Up from the grave he arose!" Or maybe I just had chills from the fact that whoever designs Easter dresses for little girls obviously does not live in a climate where it is not unusual to still have snow on the ground on Easter morning.
We would then make our way back to the church for an Easter breakfast, although I remember once or twice going to a restaurant with church people, and I think we even skipped out altogether and went home on a few occasions. We must have gone back for the regular worship service at 10:30, but I think we found the time to do our Easter egg hunt before church some years. Funny that the details are so blurry on this point.
But we always had an Easter egg hunt. In fact, we kept having an Easter egg hunt up until a couple of years ago, when all of the kids were in our twenties and two of us were already married. We would leave the plastic eggs and decorated hard-boiled eggs (which we had made the day before) out on the dining room table in a basket, and we would wake up to find that the basket had been emptied. The plastic eggs would have been filled with candy and hidden around the house by my mom, along with a plastic-grass-filled basket of goodies for each of us. The hard-boiled eggs were hidden too, until one year when we failed to find all of the hard-boiled eggs, and after that, they just went straight into the fridge.
The rules varied from year to year, but usually, we had to wait until after the sunrise service, and we had to find our baskets before we could start collecting eggs. I think that was my mom's way of giving a head start to the youngest kids - if Benjie's basket was easier to find, then he could start finding eggs sooner. I also seem to recall being forbidden to take the "easy" eggs one year when we had the younger cousins staying with us for Easter, but I don't remember how "easiness" was qualified.
As we got older, my mom hid the eggs harder and harder. Our house also got more and more filled with stuff, so there were more hiding places every year, too. She would put them in the toes of shoes, in the pockets of coats, under couch cushions, under mugs in the cabinets, inside potted plants, in the freezer, inside light fixtures, sewn into the hems of curtains, poured into the concrete of the driveway. Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. But only with that last one. She doesn't have a driveway.
The last time we did an Easter egg hunt, my mom hid about 60 plastic eggs, and we only found about 40 before giving up and wanting lunch. We found a few more throughout the day, one of which was mysteriously filled with varieties of candy that had only been in last year's eggs, but I think there are still about a dozen plastic eggs filled with candy lying around my mother's house. Every once in a while, she'll pull out a dusty teapot from a back shelf when company's coming, and she'll notice something plastic rolling around inside. One day, we'll go over to Grandma's house for an Easter egg hunt with our kids, and little Beren will find an egg filled with fossilized candies that he has never heard of before, and I will have to explain to him why he probably shouldn't eat them.
What are your favourite childhood Easter memories?