As a young girl, I engaged in what is surely a quaint, discontinued custom (or perhaps not?) of getting a new, light, springy dress to wear to church on Easter. I also had two straw hats; one was blue and one was white or pink, if I remember correctly. They were uncomfortable, hot, and scratchy, but I thought I looked elegant in them. I looked forward to having a reason to wear such a hat.
My favourite Easter dress, or the only one I remember, was solid pink with plain lines. It was very comfortable and simple. It came to a sad end. A long time afterward, while we were out driving around, I found some chlorine bleach in the car and accidentally spilled some on the dress, creating instant white blotches. It was a moment I agonised over long after, wishing I could take it back — partly at the loss of the dress, and partly because I felt it must have upset my poor mother as much as me.
On Easter, as on birthdays, we used to sit at the kitchen table and pose for a photo with our filled-up Easter baskets. Mine had broad bands of straw in natural, blue, dark pink, and yellow — again if I remember correctly — and had a handle I’d tie bows and other things to. Virgil’s was smaller, had narrower colored bands, and had no handle. We both had had our baskets for as long as I could remember — that is, I don’t remember acquiring them. They were kept in my closet the rest of the year, along with colored plastic eggs which, at Easter, would be placed in the baskets empty and found the next morning filled with jelly beans or M&Ms.
I associate the baskets and the eggs strongly with the happier aspects of my childhood, which made them a little magical and mysterious somehow. Knowing now that they were just things that were bought at the store in the plaza across the highway has diminished the emotional resonance but little. I sometimes think about whether today’s kids have things that they feel the same sense of wonder about, or are they all so in tune with advertising, marketing, and shopping that every childhood belonging is a mere object with no emotional meaning.
When my dad had to move out finally and we had to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, I thought about saving the baskets and plastic eggs. But space did not allow me to, and to this day I wonder if the actual objects would help me preserve the memory and the feelings any better than I have — if I would be able to look at them now and remember those Easter Sundays and how I felt then. I do not know.