In my thirty-something years of life, I only have three Easter memories, which I will now share with you.
1) Goin’ to Church
It has occurred to me that I’ve managed to set foot in damn near every kind of church there is over the years: Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Unitarian, Episcopalian, Pentecostal, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, Nazarine, Latter Day Saints, etc. I’ve even been to Synagogue, fer cryin’ out loud. One memory that I will always keep with me is the time my family went to a Catholic Easter service. This was in Lebanon, Missouri, and we were visiting my first step-mother’s family, who were devout Catholics. I used to love visiting them during the holidays because a) they were nice folks, and b) we always ate well. Do you know what perogies are? They’re like Polish potato dumplings, and I used to eat a shitload of ’em. Well, before the traditional Polish feast, we would all get dressed up to go to church, which made perfect sense to me considering the level of ornamentation in the Catholic church.
(this was not my Catholic church, but you get the idea)
With the stained glass and the gilded everything, it was all so shiny and beautiful–even the crucified Jesus was pretty. It was lightyears ahead of the decor found in the dingy Nazarene Sunday School I attended in rural Georgia, where kids would write cuss words on the chalk board before the preacher lady showed up. There was never any worry about keeping up appearances at that church, I can assure you. (I mean, someone would occasionally sport a clip-on tie, but that was pretty much it.) So everyone is dressed to the nines and we all march into the wonderfully ornate Catholic church, and immediately I realize that the church is full of animals. And I mean FULL of animals. It was like a livestock auction in there–oodles upon oodles of barnyard animals. You could barely make out what the priest was saying over the sounds of the bleating from the goats and the clucking from the chickens–it was like a trip to the county fair. I don’t remember exactly what the sermon was about (something along the lines of “All God’s Creatures,” I imagine) but I do remember being blown away by the spectacle of it all, which was something I had come to expect from the Catholic church. I mean, this was the same church that holds midnight mass, and going to church at midnight is rockstar stuff when you’re a kid (admittedly not as rockstar as, say, handling snakes or speaking in tongues, but you get my drift).
2) My First Easter Egg Hunt
(1982 White House Easter Egg Hunt)
No, I was not at the White House for this event. To be honest, I don’t actually remember my first Easter egg hunt, because I was a baby. However, the incident was captured with an 8mm film recorder, and while that film is forever lost, I can distinctly recall watching the footage over and over again on my living room wall as a child. I’m not sure what year it was, but I had just barely learned to walk, and I was in short pants (it may have been a lederhosen-like jumper, honestly). I was toddling along in the grass, headed for a brightly-colored egg, when out of nowhere comes running this older girl who shoves me face first into the ground and snatches my egg away from me. Of course I begin crying, and I am quickly consoled by my mother, who helps me up and dusts me off so that I can begin looking for eggs again. I see another egg and start gunning for it, but that same little bitch knocks me to the ground AGAIN and steals my egg. This happened a few more times, actually, but the one I really remember is that first one… my tiny smiling face full of joy as it’s so unceremoniously knocked into the tall grass by that she-devil–dashed to the dirt along with my dreams of picking up pastel painted eggs. That footage replays in my head with the same haunting trauma that other people experience while recalling the Zapruder 8mm film footage of JFK getting shot.
3) Easter Time is the Time for Eggs
The only real Easter tradition I look forward to every year is singing the Easter Time song with my mother. Ever since I was a little boy, my mama would sing:
“Easter time is the time for eggs,
and the time for eggs is Easter time.
I pray to the lord and I hope and pray
that I don’t lose my Sunday pants,
’cause Easter time is the time for eggs…”
And it would carry on like that on a loop. We’d sing and dance to this ridiculous tune off and on throughout the day, and it was always a hoot. I sang the song with my mama today, as a matter of fact, and she said that while it was silly, it was also important to be sincere about it, because if you weren’t sincere about the eggs, then “they would wreak havoc on yo’ head.”
She asked me where that song came from, to which I replied that I had no idea–that she’d always just sung it. She was sure that she got that tune from somewhere, so I tried tracking down the origins of the song today, and I found the following colorfully racist cartoon from 1937: