Easter comes in one of two versions in our corner of southeastern Idaho: windy or really windy. If we’re lucky, we might get just breezy, but I can count those Easters on one hand and still have a couple of fingers left over. Rain, snow, sleet, hail or sunshine are optional. Some Easters we get all of them in the same day – several times. Did I mention March and April are iffy weather months around here? Of course some years Easter could be held on the 4th of July and we’d still have horrid weather.
I grew up in a time when buying a new Easter dress was a very special occasion, one which required a special trip to the “big” city and a day spent visiting all the dress shops for just the right dress, shoes and, horror of all horrors, a hat. Since my female cousins and I were all tomboys, finding and trying on dresses was something akin to torture and accomplished only through bribes of food and a visit to the five-and-ten-cent store when we were finished. We’d have been a lot happier – and warmer – going to church in jeans and cowboy boots. To our logical kids’ minds it seemed silly to go to all this trouble just to cover everything up with overshoes and coats and have to tie your Easter bonnet down with duct tape to keep it on your head, although in those days security was a plentiful supply of bobby pins and hat pins.
Of course, the new clothes demanded photographs – outside. Somewhere between church and dinner you got dragged outside in all your Easter finery, pointed into the sun (if there was any) and ordered to smile. My cousin (the short one on the left) and I absolutely hate this picture which, of course, means it was one of our mothers’ favorites. We’re standing on a 5′ snowdrift, the wind is blowing and the temperature is about 25 degrees. For whatever reasons lost in history mothers also insisted you face into the sun, ordered you to quit squinting and smile. Needless to say, we weren’t very good at following directions, either. Most of my childhood pictures look like I’m mad at the world or asleep when mostly I’m just trying not to go blind looking into the sun. Did I mention I still hate having my picture taken?
After the photo session, we could mercifully go back in the house, thaw out and explore what was left of our Easter baskets. Usually not very much. The Easter Bunny came early at our house. I think it was a plot to ensure we consumed as much sugar as possible so the sugar high had worn off by the time we got to church and we were likely to be semi-comatose, and therefore reasonably quiet, through the service.
My most memorable Easter was the one when my father sat on my favorite Easter egg. Everyone in the family remembers that one. Our assorted families were gathered at our house and while waiting for dinner my cousins and I were entertaining ourselves hiding and finding Easter eggs. My favorite egg that year was a lovely shade of dark lavender and I hid it very carefully under the cushion of a love seat which was back in a corner out of the way. It was uncomfortable and seldom used and therefore unoccupied when my father wandered into the living room, found all the other seats occupied and headed for the love seat. Everyone in the room shouted “Don’t sit down!” He sat down. I can still hear the squish. Naturally, I burst into tears. He got up, lifted the cushion, surveyed the ruin and said, puzzled “Why the hell would anyone want to put an egg under there?” The dog ate the evidence. I never did get another Easter egg to come out quite that perfect color ever again.