This is another dual-purpose post. I didn’t figure out what to write about for WFMW until late yesterday, so I’m doing it today, which is also Writer’s Workshop day.
Today, Mary and Kat must be on the same wavelength, because Mary said, “Why don’t you write about Easter when you were growing up?” and one of Kat’s prompts for today was “March 20th is the first day of Spring! Let it inspire a blog post,” so I’m going to write about both. Well, Easter is a spring holiday, after all…
Mom loved Easter. Everyone called her Bunny, because she was born on Holy Saturday. (Saturday, which would have been her 84th birthday, is also Holy Saturday.) She didn’t even know her real name was Genevieve until one of the nuns at St. Ignatius curtly informed her that there was no St. Bunny of Paris, and she had better learn to spell it.
The fun of having a birthday between March 22 and April 25 is that, eventually, your birthday is during Holy Week. For example, I was born on Palm Sunday. Mary, like Mom, was born on Holy Saturday. My cousin Dan was born on Good Friday. (Happy birthday, Dan, by the way.) It’s a moveable feast, kind of like Paris.
Easter was a big holiday in my family, almost as big as Christmas. Even without the presents, it was a special day. It would start with getting all dressed up so we could go to church. This is a picture of us on Easter 1965, the year my mother decided to dress us in fedoras and trench coats, like miniature Frank Sinatras. It was April 18 in Chicago, which is why we’re all bundled up.
Left to right, Kip (6), Mom’s Aunt Cash, me (9), Fabulous Auntie Jill (my godmother), and Jim (7). Sorry the picture is blurry. To get all of us into it, Dad (who took this on Jill’s camera) stood halfway down the block. I cropped out most of the background.
After Dad died, we would celebrate Easter at Fabulous Auntie Jill’s and equally Fabulous Auntie Moe’s apartment with most of the rest of the family. When we moved to Northfield in my sophomore year of high school, we celebrated at home with what my brother called “The Usual Crowd”: Grandma Holton, her sister Florence, and Mom’s Aunt Cash. Tex, who married Mom after I graduated high school, called them “The Lavender Hill Mob,” after the 1951 movie starring Alec Guinness. Mom would also invite anyone else in the family who might otherwise spend the holiday alone. That was the way we were in my family: you don’t have anywhere to go? Come on over! There was always plenty of food, enough to feed the assembled crowd and send the Lavender Hill Mob home with enough leftovers for a couple of meals.
In our family, Easter meant ham, which is great when you have a crowd, not so much when it’s just two people. Mary and I decided to buy a Honey Baked Ham once, and we couldn’t finish it before it got stinky and we had to throw it out. We learned the truth of what Grandma Holton always said, “Eternity is two people and a ham.” Ham didn’t go bad when I was at home. It didn’t last that long.
It wouldn’t be Easter without candy. All os us had a sweet tooth. Mom loved jelly bird eggs, which were the same as jelly beans, but different. Of course, we’d get Easter baskets; even after we got older, we’d set them up for each other and hide them. You could always count on a hollow chocolate bunny, various marshmallow eggs, jelly bird eggs, and, of course, Marshmallow Peeps.
I talked about Peeps during last year’s A to Z Challenge (and I hope you’ve signed up for this year’s), and, since Mary loves the story, I’m going to repeat it here…
Picture this: the Holton boys are sitting in the living room on Easter morning. It’s maybe 9 AM. We’ve sought out and found our Easter baskets, and are going through the candy buried in the fake grass lining the bottom of them. One of my brothers (I can’t remember if it was Jim or Kip) found several Marshmallow Peeps in his basket, took a bite out of one, and decided he didn’t like them. “Toss it over here, then,” I said. So, he sent the Peep flying over to me, sitting on the couch. The throw went a little high, but I managed to catch the flying confection and, in the same motion, stuff it in my mouth.
By the time our mother got up that morning, I had eaten all of the Peeps in the house, all of which were tossed at me by my brothers, and didn’t feel sick.
We don’t get together for Easter that much anymore, but you can bet that the day wouldn’t be complete without one of them tossing a marshmallow Peep at me, and me catching it and stuffing it completely in my mouth in one motion.
Happy Easter, all! That’s Wednesdays for My Wife and Writer’s Workshop for March 24, 2016.