Having Easter Memories Already
It’s been a week, and I’m still thinking about Easter. It was such a beautiful day here in Mahoosuc Mills: the kind of Spring day I just prayed for as a kid. Not so the Easter Bunny wouldn’t have to hop, hop, hop through the snow. No, I prayed for good weather so I could wear my new Easter dress with white ankle socks, white patent leather shoes, my pink Easter coat (my sister Irene’s was identical, but blue), white straw hat with fake flowers, and white gloves. All brand, spanking new, toute le kit! Oh, and new underwear, too. Almost forgot about that.
I hardly slept the night before, hoping the weather would cooperate. That’s how excited I was to wear my new clothes. Irene and me would lay out our new stuff the night before. When we woke up that morning, there’d be a trail of jelly beans from our bed to our Easter baskets in the living room. This is back in the days before Ronald Reagan made jelly beans famous, and they started coming in exotic flavors. When I was a kid, the black jelly beans (which were my favorite) still tasted like licorice. All the others tasted like cheap perfume, but we ate them anyway.
Early on, our Easter baskets were loaded up with lots of that shredded, pastel cellophane, and nestled on top were Hershey’s chocolate eggs wrapped in brightly colored aluminum foil, chocolate bunnies, and stuffed toy rabbits. As we got older, the stuffed toys were replaced by barrettes, Jacks, and Mickey Mouse Pez dispensers, then with mascara, eye shadow, and our favorite perfume. Except at our grandparents house’s, where the baskets (our second and third of the day) were always full of good, old-fashioned chocolate goodies. One year, my grandmother gave us each a solid milk chocolate rabbit. The thing must have been about a pound or two of chocolate. It took Irene and me a couple of weeks to finish them off. I don’t know how we did it, but somehow we managed.
Even after we were too old for Easter baskets, at our place at the family dinner table Easter morning would be a big, honking Russell Stover Vanilla or Coconut Cream Egg. All of us, Mom, Dad, Irene, and me would start chipping away at our egg before breakfast, one little slice at a time. We’d each try to save some of our egg until Monday, but by dinner, we’d be done. Sure, it made us nauseous, but it was the good kind of nauseous, you know, from eating too many sweets.
Marshmallow Peeps are strangely missing from my memory. I guess we figured, why waste your time on fluorescent-colored sugar when you can have chocolate?
This Easter, Charlie and me went to Irene and Jim’s house for dinner. Caitlin and her boyfriend Adam were there, and my nephew Jimmy with his latest. (I can’t remember her name. Jordan, maybe.) And did my Dad ever look dapper.
Dad’s over at Mahoosuc Green now, which is one of them senior living facilities. He bought in a few years after our mother died. He has the cutest little apartment there! Irene and me helped him fix it up. Let me tell you, Dad is having the time of his life. He looks about ten years younger than when our mother was sick. He’s always off bowling or golfing or on bus trips to Foxwoods or Quebec City. He barely has time to get a haircut! And the widows are buzzing around him like flies to honey. Well, he’s a good catch, nice-looking man, good head of hair. And, he still drives at night. I told him, “Dad, you’re in a seller’s market. You play your cards right, you could have a different casserole every night of the week, if you know what I’m saying!” It’s nice to see him happy.
Anyways, Irene served scalloped potatoes and baked ham the way our Mom used to, with a brown sugar glaze and pineapple rings stuck to it with cloves, and, green bean casserole. A few years back, we started making it with cream of celery soup (instead of cream of mushroom) and we double the French’s fried onion rings on the top. Try it. Makes all the difference. I made a lemon meringue pie, which was light and bright, just like the day. As for appetizers, we had big, Russell Stover Vanilla Cream Eggs, of course. Boy, do those things pack a punch!
None of us were all that hungry by the time we sat down to eat. We held hands as my Dad said grace, and got a little teary. Then par for the course, we tucked into that food like we hadn’t eaten in weeks!
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flipside!
(Listen to the podcast of Ida's column here.)