Saturday, March 26, 2016

So...What Happened to Easter?

Last Friday, I was in a fitting room at the Banana Republic at The Grove in Los Angeles. I had
found the most adorable fit and flare sleeveless LBD (little black dress). It was my size, on sale with an additional 30% off. It fit perfectly. I clicked a quick dressing room photo which I sent to my husband before stepping out of the fitting room to see the dress in the three-way mirror.

A smiling sales associate stepped beside me. "That looks really nice on you. Are you thinking about wearing it next Sunday?"

I gave her a blank stare. "Sunday?"

"Yes. Easter Sunday."

"You must be mistaken. It can't be Easter."

"It's early this year."

Now that I thought about it, store displays were featuring brightly colored displays while I'd seen commercials featuring bunnies and chocolate--but somehow I never put it together. How had Easter completely fallen off my radar?

I was raised Catholic and attended mass every Sunday. I went to a Catholic school from kindergarten through the twelfth grade where I was taught that Easter was the most important day on the Christian calendar.

As a kid I looked forward to visits from the Easter Bunny who made a quiet deliveries early on Easter morning. I never appreciated EB's accomplice, my mother, who was responsible for creating the most beautiful baskets. She filled colorful straw baskets with cellophane grass and a plush pastel bunny surrounded by traditional candies.  Candy was a rarity in our house. My sister and I went trick or treating on Halloween night, only to have our candy stash thrown away two days later. My mother claimed the fun was in collecting the candy--and no, I've never forgiven her for destroying this childhood ritual. But Easter was different. As soon as we awoke we attacked the baskets eating chocolate eggs, bunnies and Peeps--before breakfast.

Usually the Saturday before Easter we'd color eggs which were also in our baskets. During the following week the eggs would make for novelty items in our lunch boxes. Some were turned into  Easter egg salad, which always seemed tastier than plain old egg salad.

For Easter Sunday mass, my mother usually dressed my sister and me in matching dresses which were accessorized with matching hats, lacy anklets, pocketbooks and black patent leather shoes.

Dinner was always a family affair which seemed to be at one of my grandmother's houses. which always smelled of roast leg of lamb, baking ham and homemade cakes.

I remember looking forward to the Peanuts special, It's the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown which usually aired sometime the week before Easter. This special had a weak storyline, but amazing music. Vince Guaraldi composed jazz variations of Beethoven classics.

My most memorable Easter was the year my family went to Italy. On Easter Sunday we were in Vatican City receiving the Pope's blessing. This incredible experience was followed immediately by another as we stepped into St. Peter's Basilica where we saw Michelangelo's Pieta.

When I was a senior in high school, I remember going to Easter mass with my family, then brunch, and then home. That was it. My parents retired to their bedroom where my father took a nap and my mother settled in with the current novel she was reading. My sister and I, having nothing else to do, went to the mall. This is the last Easter I remember spending with my family. I'm sure there were others, but this was a turning point; I was growing up and holidays were beginning to lose their magic.

I rarely came home for Easter when I was in college. I do remember going to brunch with a friend and her parents one year. After mimosas and French toast, I went to a callback for a summer production of  A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. (I was cast in the production and heartbroken when my parents insisted that I come home that summer. Theater at Emerson College was one thing. Outside of college in the real world was another.)

While living in Chicago, I was the Easter Bunny in Carson Pierre Scotts department store on year. Frankly, I found the costume frightening as did many of the small children who were forced to sit on my lap for photographs. Quite by accident, I developed a trick that usually stopped small children's tears: I wiped my eyes as I pretended to cry. Misery loves company and the child, feeling sympathy, would stop crying to console me. One little girl brought me carrots.

When I first moved to Hollywood, I was determined to get to a Sunrise Service at The Hollywood Bowl. But then I realized how early sunrise actually was and never made it.

For the past several years, Easter Sunday has just been another day at work.

Back at Banana Republic, a chime indicating a text message draws my attention away from my reflection in the three-way mirror. My husband is telling me to purchase the dress, but by now I've decided I don't need another black dress, especially for Easter Sunday. I thank the associate who reminds me that the dress is going for a great price. True. I love bargains, but I leave the LBD in the fitting room,

Earlier today I was in a CVS and saw shelves full of Easter candy. I remember loving the foil covered milk chocolate eggs, but I can't find any. I find Hershey Easter kisses, which are the same thing in a different shape, but I really want chocolate eggs because it's Easter. I leave with nothing.

Tomorrow I'll go to work and look forward to enjoying dinner with my husband and a good friend
afterwards. This year we're doing Italian. I know there will be good wine and conversation. I'll try not to wear black for a change.

After I get home and attend to my pets and household chores, I might watch  It's the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown, mainly to listen to Vince Guaraldi's jazz score. Who knows? I may be able to recapture some of the magic from the Easters past.