Easter Memories – #fanfun
In my family we were three sisters, I the oldest, Donna-the wild child two years younger, and Geri ten years younger. I won't go into the explanation my mother gave me for such an age gap, but it had something to do with a very romantic anniversary celebration and the belief that she was past childbearing years. Geri was definitely a surprise to Mother, a nuisance to Donna and an absolute delight to me. After all I was twelve – too young for boys and too old for dolls, so I took on the roll of little mother.
By time Geri was five, I was seventeen and working part time at The Chocolate Shop, a local soda shop/Candy Boutique known for their homemade chocolates. Easter was beyond description…the shelves were lined with chocolate bunnies in every size imaginable, chocolate chicks, chocolate eggs, complete baskets made of pure sweet milk chocolate. Weeks before Easter, the bunnies began to disappear, then the chicks went, by Good Friday most of the eggs were gone. I began to worry. I had planned to bring Geri a medium sized bunny, or maybe a chick, but the shop owner told me to wait until Saturday and he'd give me a discount. (Yes, even at seventeen I'd already learned the shopping strategy of discount/clearance/coupon) So, I waited. By Saturday evening I was left with three choices…a small chocolate motorcycle, a small chocolate football, or a two-foot tall chocolate Aunt Jemima with a scrap of checkered gingham tied kerchief-fashion around her head.
The Aunt Jemima was certainly the most impressive, but it was solid chocolate and cost $35. …bear in mind, I was only working part time and making a dollar an hour, plus tips (however, please don't mention the tip thing to the IRS) The bottom line here is that it could take me two weeks to make the thirty-five dollars but, Geri was my baby sister. Shortly before closing I stood there eyeing the top shelf, when up walks the shop owner. “So,” he says. “You want the Jemima?” I nodded very slowly. “Okay,” he says reaching for the huge chocolate figure. Just as I am about to ask if I can pay it off on time, he says, “For you, five dollars.”
“Five dollars?” I repeat.
I gave Geri the chocolate Aunt Jemima on Easter morning and her eyes lit up like The Lord Himself had risen inside of her. A box of Godiva would never have gotten that reaction. If you’re a kid, the size of the chocolate counts more than the quality. That huge chunk of chocolate lasted for nearly a month and had everyone in the family nibbling on it. Now, you might think this is the end of this story, but it isn't…it's actually the beginning, because to this day, not an Easter morning dawns that my sister doesn't telephone me to say, “Remember that Easter when you gave me the chocolate Aunt Jemima?”
This Easter my husband and I are forgoing the traditional family dinner to recreate a special memory we share. It has nothing to do with chocolate bunnies, jellybeans, sunrise services, basket or bonnets; it’s actually not Easter-y at all. We plan to buy fresh corn and live lobsters, then cook them…just the two of us.
Back in New Jersey we hosted the family dinner for every holiday. I’m not talking about small intimate dinners, these were mega-productions that entailed extensive pre-holiday cleaning, cooking a piece of meat the size of a small child, and stacks of dirty dishes that made me wonder why we ever started such a tradition. Holidays included a roster of thirty to forty guests, not just family, but friends, and friends of friends, at times I could believe complete strangers had wandered in off the street. Every time someone else showed up we simply added another plate to the table. I swear one Thanksgiving the Flowers-By-Wire man came to deliver a bouquet and stayed for dinner.
The spring after I’d undergone chemotherapy, I was tired. And Dick, who’d suffered through that six months with me, was equally tired. Both of us needed a break from this routine, so we rented a condo on Hutchinson Island for 2 weeks and announced to the family that we’d be vacationing over Easter.
Normally, the week before a holiday was filled with chores – food shopping, vegetable chopping, preparing and freezing. Lists tacked to one another dangled from the hook above the kitchen desk – polish silver, wash crystal, organize dishes, need new roaster, get flowers…the list grew by the minute.
But the lobster year there was none of that. Instead we played golf, took time for a glass of wine, went to dinner, walked on the beach and sat lazily by the pool. On Easter Sunday, we played golf after church, and arrived back at the condo with two live lobsters moments before a thunderstorm rolled across the sky. We boiled the lobsters, cooked fresh corn from the produce stand and broke off crusty bits of bread as we watched the sky darken and then pour. The two of us were alone…no parents, no kids, no friends, relatives or neighbors…it was fun, romantic and wonderful. Without intending to we’d made our own Easter memory.
Many years have passed since that Easter and all of them have been spent with family and friends. Unfortunately many of our family members and old friends are now scattered around the country, but on holidays the seats around our table are still filled and we wouldn’t have it any other way. There is something very joyful about celebrating holidays with friends and family. Every holiday is an opportunity to add another page to our book of memories. Those are the occasions for picture taking…documented memories that we can share with others until the color fades from the photograph and no one can remember the name of the man standing next to Aunt Rose or how he came to be in the picture.
We didn’t take pictures on lobster Easter, or chocolate Aunt Jemima Easter, but those memories we can call to mind without pictures. Those memories are personal treasures that remain in our hearts for as long as we live.
I wish each and every one of you a Blessed Easter with special memories of your own.
As for Dick and I…well, we’ll be busy wiping the butter from our chin.