Memories of Easter

Published 4:38 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2009

One of the most rewarding aspects of having this space in the paper is having you come up to me and tell me that you “enjoy” reading my column. I appreciate that and many of you seem to like those times when I simply recount those days gone by. It is in that spirit that I recall my memories of Easter.

Now, as a pastor, I realize the significance of Easter from the perspective of faith. I preach that Easter is the greatest day in our Christian faith and I believe that. There is no power greater than the power of the resurrection. As the song says, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow!”

Just the thought of Easter Sunday brings to my memory great songs like “Up from the Grave He Arose.” Remember the pains we would take to sing the words of the verses slowly. With great intention we would hold our singing in check until we began the refrain and we would burst forward with excitement, “Up from the grave he arose with a mighty triumph o’er his foes.”

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But I have to admit that as a boy growing up there were other aspects of the Easter holiday that I remember. Like the warmth of spring and the resurrection of nature. As you read this Wednesday morning, with temps in the low 30s, simply imagine the warmth!

Thoughts of Easter past also bring about remembrance of another tradition that has sort disappeared. With our economy like it is these days, it might be time to revive this one. At one time Easter was a stimulus package in its own rite.

Clothing stores loved Easter. Ladies had an excuse for a new frock and hat. If a man needed a new coat or suit, Easter time was when he got it. The entire family was included as boys were dressed up in a spring sport coat and new shoes, while the girls would get their new outfits that included a pair of white, patent leather shoes and matching purse.

I know that I had a couple of plaid sport coats, but I never wore a leisure suit. I’m pretty proud of that. I guess the most outlandish pair of pants I ever had, though, was a result of the year that red pants were the style. Thankfully no pictures remain.

Nowadays, dressing up for church is not the style, even on Easter. That’s fine with me. God has made it clear in His Word that He is more interested in people’s hearts than their sartorial splendor. Still, I can’t help but remember how things used to be as we put on our Sunday clothes, especially at Easter.

Easter would usually be accompanied by a Sunday family dinner. Actually every Sunday presented the opportunity for a family dinner, but holidays, like Easter, would bring in great aunts and uncles and cousins from far and wide. Easter was festival of food, fun and fellowship.

It also had its special event. Christmas had presents, Thanksgiving had its turkey and dressing, Fourth of July had its Americana, and Easter had its Easter Egg Hunt.

The adults appreciated the menu and the fellowship. We children might break out a baseball or football and play a game, but there was no doubt that we were just killing time until the time in the early afternoon that we would have the Easter Egg Hunt. Every child had one thought. I am going find the Prize Egg!

There are many Easter Egg Hunts these days. Many churches sponsor one and perhaps there is a community egg hunt. There are plenty of plastic eggs and the hunting area is safe and secure. Not so in the old days.

First of all, there was no such thing as plastic eggs. Man, I must sound like I come from the Stone Age, but, there were no plastic eggs. The eggs were real and hard boiled and were either colored by crayons or probably dipped in some kind of pastel colored water. But they were real!

I didn’t think so then, but now that I remember, the places where we hunted them were downright scary. I guess my favorite place for the Easter Egg Hunt was the woods that were at the juncture of Stagecoach Road and the Lower Meigs-Moultrie Road. Mostly, it was a tall, longleaf pine forest and the undergrowth was not too thick. But it was still the woods.

When we finally got on the grown men’s nerves enough and they could not ignore us children anymore, they would go down there and hide the eggs. It’s not like today when there are 200 eggs for every child. There might have been 20 of us children and the total number of eggs hidden was probably not more than 60 real eggs.

The area of hiding was over an acre, maybe two. That’s a big area and there were plenty of tough places to hide only 60 eggs. Fallen bark and trees, palmetto bushes, thick grass, all made for a good egg hunt. Those same areas made good places for snakes, too, but we never even thought of finding a rattler instead of eggs.

There was one prize egg and it was hid in a doozy of a place. I never found it and I think there were years when even the person who hid it never found it again. That didn’t matter too much, however. We had a lot of fun and that was the purpose of the hunt. Also, we couldn’t leave the hunt until all the eggs had been found.

After we finished the egg hunt, we all gathered back at Granny’s house and had a “eat the eggs” party. It didn’t matter that we had eaten a huge meal just a few hours before. We cracked our real eggs (usually over some unsuspecting head) and ate them. I always liked salt and pepper on my boiled egg. Still do, to this day.

We would wash them down with a small coke in the bottle that had been iced down in a washtub.

This year will bring about another great Easter Sunday and there will be egg hunts and family meals all around. I hope yours is a great one and one that you will remember in the years to come just as I have remembered mine.