Easter is remembered in an array of colors, from new purple dresses, yellow bonnets and black patent-leather shoes to multicolored eggs hidden in tufts of green grass and fragrant white lilies surrounding the Sunday church altar.
When American Profile asked readers about their favorite Easter memories, they conveyed stories of seasonal rebirth and spiritual renewal, acts of kindness and unexpected blessings, candy-filled baskets and the joy of discovering rabbit tracks in the new-fallen snow. Here is a sampling of those memories:
Footprints in the snow
Every Easter I would fashion a nest of willow branches and hay to fill with goodies for our four children. Our oldest was of the age to be skeptical. On Easter morning he began screaming with excitement. There in the new-fallen snow were rabbit footprints to the back door. The male rabbit had gotten out of his cage in the shed. I was left with a wonderful Easter memory.
—Mary Ribley, Richmondville, N.Y.
Years ago, I was a young mother of three children, ages 3, 2 and 1. Trying to make a 9 a.m. Easter church service is quite a feat considering everyone had to be awakened, cleaned up, fed and dressed properly. At church I settled back to enjoy some serenity and glanced down at the floor. There on my feet were my pink bedroom slippers with silver pom-poms. I was horrified at the time but now our family gets a chuckle out of that story.
—Bonnie Baechtel, Lady Lake, Fla.
Playing Easter Bunny
I love Easter and the spring season. Mom, my two sisters and myself enjoy a family tradition on the night before Easter. We put our children to bed and hop off to play Easter Bunny. We meet at mom’s to dye eggs for the grandkids. We enjoy comparing dye kits and seeing who thought of the most creative designs. My children have received eggs from plain pastels to sequin delights. The best part is the time spent together. We all agree to nudge each other awake at church on Easter morning. No one ever said Easter Bunny work was easy!
—Stacie Bendall, Russellville, Ala.
A good deed and holiday dinner
Easter 1970 was memorable for me—not only was I expecting my first child, but a major snowstorm hit during Sunday morning services. Unless we could find someone to put chains on the car—on a holiday—we would never make it to my family’s home in the country. One gas station was still open, but the attendant was reluctant to help. Turning to plead with him, my coat fell open. One look at my expanding midsection and he smiled and said, “Sure, come on in.” God bless him, we made it to dinner on time.
—Kathy Agamedi, Smithton, Pa.
The sunshine burst through my curtains leaving a fine sliver of light on my lilac wall. Lying in bed, I stretched and wiped the tired from my chocolate-brown eyes. The morning light dropped sparkles of dust that danced like fairies above my head and kissed my ash-blonde eyelashes. Slowly, a smile moved over my small innocent face. Easter morning at last. Gently, I slid from bed and tiptoed to the door, careful not to make the magic disappear. Closing my eyes tight, wishing a small wish, I swung the door open to a basket filled with rainbow surprises.
—Kim Buda, Greensboro, Md.
It was 1950. I was 12, not grown up, not a kid. I wanted an ankle bracelet, just like my older sister had. When she gave me a chocolate lamb, I was thrilled to see an ankle bracelet around its neck. So proud, I placed it on the mantel. But it was a chilly night and I didn’t know my dad was going to turn on the gas stove inside the fireplace. Going to bed, I glanced at the mantel for one last look before sleeping. I was shocked to see my lamb melting, dripping onto the floor! But the ankle bracelet was saved and worn on Easter Sunday.
—Joan Zidek, North Apollo, Pa.
Ten feet tall
The 40 days of Lent, with its somber, dark and brooding time, sent a message of hope as we attended all of the traditional ceremonies in our church. We were taught to give up something we really loved for the Lenten season, and sweets were the most natural choice. It was not easy and temptation was plentiful, but we struggled through the days and on Easter Sunday morning we walked into church with a feeling of pride and accomplishment. When the organist lifted her hands and brought them down on the keyboard playing a glorious rendition of our most favorite hymn, we felt 10 feet tall.
—Jean M. Sullivan, Brookings, Ore.
Once Ash Wednesday gets here, out come my egg dyes and raw eggs at room temperature. This is something that was instilled in me by my Ukrainian mother many, many years ago. Decorating Easter eggs (Pysanky) is a slow process that can’t be done in a hurry.
—Helen Timo, Bentleyville, Pa.
Growing up in the Sandhills of Nebraska as I did, I had, shall we say, a rather unique image of what the Easter Bunny looked like. As a kid, I pictured him looking like all the other rabbits I saw every day near our small ranch. He was big, with long lanky legs, a large tail, and two enormous ears that stood straight up whenever he heard me rustling around the yucca plants that sprouted everywhere around our house. In other words, the Easter Bunny was a jackrabbit, pure and simple.
—Richard Savino, Longmont, Colo.
Easter is the most important and meaningful holiday of the year to me. As a Sunday school teacher, I wanted to impress, in a compelling way, the significance of the events of the first Easter on the first through sixth graders in our church. Through drama on Easter in 2005, I portrayed the Roman centurion (army officer) at the cross when Jesus was crucified. There was much to consider in preparing to tell the New Testament account of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection through the person of a first-century soldier to 21st-century students. Recounting those events was a memorable labor of love.
—Andy Campbell, Springfield, Va.
Rite of passage
My favorite Easter memory is the year my mother entrusted me with the Easter Bunny conspiracy and consigned me with a tidy sum to execute the procurement of chocolate bunnies and jelly beans that would fill my younger siblings’ baskets. I shopped with a sense of self-importance, viewing and reviewing the array of delicacies. The decision of what to purchase painstakingly made. I enjoyed this rite of passage, conveying a family tradition to my younger siblings.
—Cordella Jeremiason, Willmar, Minn.
Easter dawn communion service is my favorite memory of Easter. Colorful hats and flowers were everywhere. I tried not to giggle as the visiting pastor’s false teeth clicked into the microphone. We sang favorite hymns with the choir. Delicious smells permeated the air; the after-communion breakfast was being prepared. The flowery smell of corsages was overpowering on an empty stomach. But bacon, eggs and coffee aromas promised prayers would be answered: prayers of food for my stomach as well as pastor’s food for my soul.
—Anne Marie Chilingerian, Hesperia, Calif.
Bucket of gold
Each year when the daffodils bloom, I think of my mom. We moved to Tucker, Ga., in 1946. My dad had bought six acres of land and we helped Mom plant daffodils on one acre. When the daffodils were in bloom, we would help her pick and bundle them. After we were off to school, Mom would catch the bus to Decatur, Ga., to sell her bucket of “gold.” Times were hard for a family of six, but Mom always made sure we had a nice outfit for Easter.
—Frances S. Privette, Bonaire, Ga.