Writing into the Light…

Finding my way with words…

Memories of Easter Sundays Gone By


In the northeastern United States we are still awaiting the first leaves on the trees and the trees and bushes to flower.  Planting season is weeks away and the visual and aromatic signs of spring are not yet evident.  This is the time of year this Philadelphia girl turned Mainer relearns the lessons of patience as we sit and wait for nature to come alive again.  One location in which spring is in full bloom is the floral department at the grocery store.

As I went through the door yesterday to pick up the last few items for Easter dinner I was immediately consumed by the smell of lilies.  I always associate the smell of lilies with Easter.  I used to teach a graduate level course for teachers on designing and delivering instruction for brain-based learning.  Scent is the strongest of all senses in producing imprints on the brain leading to retained memory.  Years of Easter memories came flooding back from childhood as I stood next to the heads of lettuce and clementines and was taken away, not by calgon, but rather by the scent of lilies.  I looked next to the lilies at the tulips and other spring flowers.  My eyes followed to a display I don’t remember seeing for years and years…small square boxes containing an orchid corsage.  Wow!!  That sight brought a tsunami of memories!  An orchid corsage, growing up, was always a part of my Easter tradition.

Easter was a benchmark.  It was an annual “graduation” of sorts leading to first perfumes, first lipsticks, first kitten heels.  Easter Sunday required a complete new outfit for church.  There was to be a new suit or dress with a coordinating hat.  If Easter fell too early in the year a coat was required to go with the dress.  Just before the big day a package would arrive from Gimbel Brothers from my Great-Aunt Margaret which would contain everything that went under the dress ~ it was time for new underwear and slips.  I got my first pair of stockings for Easter Sunday which meant Aunt Margaret would have to throw a garter belt in that box with the undies.

Shoes were always an issue since Mom was a stickler for fashion rules.  I knew these would be my only dress shoes for quite a while.  Some years I wanted white patent leather rather than the usual black… but Easter was before Memorial Day… a no-no.  The purse would match the shoes and the hat was always a struggle.  I’ve never liked hats, they squashed and messed up my hair forcing me to either leave it on all day or take it off and look like squirrels had been nesting on my head… yet, a lady always wears a hat to church.  The only year I actually looked forward to wearing my hat was the year I had picked a Jackie Kennedy pillbox number to go with my suit.  I even had the Jackie voice down to make it a complete package.  And… bless me, I always had my white gloves for Easter Sunday.  Soon after Easter, I would manage to lose ONE somewhere and couldn’t wear gloves until next Easter.  Funny how that happens!

Before that glove was lost and my new shiny shoes scuffed, Easter Sunday was photo day.  Pictures in our family were always taken on the front step walking out of the front door of the house.  We have DVD’s going back to the era of super 8 Kodak movies of the front door opening and people walking out of the door, pausing, then walking to the car, starting the engine and waving as they pulled out of the driveway.  The other standard spot was by the lamp post in the front yard.  It was the only spot where daffodils were planted.  I guess that means I spent my Easter Sundays as a child all decked out tiptoeing through the daffodils.

In addition to the religious celebration of Easter, it was a family celebration.  The Easter basket contained only Zitners (of Philadelphia) cocoanut cream eggs.  I still have them mailed to me in Maine every year!  The dying of the Easter eggs has always been a big deal.  Mine is a family of creative people.  It would be blasphemous to either just dye eggs a solid color and call it a day, or to repeat a method of decoration for more than one year…new year, new creative challenge.

As my brother and his family moved to MD in the DC suburbs, we began to take my youngest nieces to the Easter Egg Roll  at the White House on Easter Monday  .  Can you believe that some adults actually taught children to lie and say they had not received their souvenir wooden Presidential egg so they could have one of their own (being way above the cut-off age for receiving the souvenir children’s eggs)?  As my nieces got too old to participate we considered renting children to take to the Easter Egg Roll to continue the set of eggs.  I fortunately found out you can purchase the souvenir eggs and support the National Park Service all at the same time.  I was so excited that when I came back from sniffing the lilies at the grocery store yesterday I found that the Easter Bunny had come to my house to deliver my 2012 set of eggs.  Note the fuchsia egg front and center… it is the first White House pet to have its own egg.  Ta-da… the Bo Obama egg which he signed on the back and left a paw print (such a talented puppy!).

May all of you reading this post have a blessed Easter filled with your own traditions and benchmarks!


Author: Carol R Craley

I am a former Philadelphia suburbanite who moved to Maine in 2002 ~ a former art educator ~ former school administrator ~former college and graduate school instructor ~ a writer ~an artist ~ and a photographer. I am currently mom to two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels named Emma and Sara and a rescued kitty from Georgia ~ so that is her name. I am inspired by nature, great music, art and writing that makes me ponder the world...

15 thoughts on “Memories of Easter Sundays Gone By

  1. What a perfectly detailed post. Love, love the telling of the milestones you passed through. Many of us can relate to almost every memory. How fortunate for you that you participated in the White House Easter Egg Roll…that I cannot relate to, but can imagine the joyous tradition. How perfect that the eggs arrived just in time.
    haha Your introduction reminded me that my valentine rose blooms were taken at the grocery store. I love that the entrance to our Kroger is through the floral department reminding us not to forget the occasions.

    • Thanks Georgette! The scent of those lilies yesterday just carried me on a trip through this day all through my childhood. Events like this add a sweetness to my aging brain and loss of memory. I may not be able to remember where I parked my car, or why I walked into a certain room, but what I do remember is oh so sweet!!

  2. Your post brought back a lot of Easter memories for me too, Carol. Growing up in LA, I missed a lot of traditions that the East Coast holds so dear, but now that I call Philadelphia home, I embrassed a lot of those traditions and instilled them in my 3 children. Now we are passing them on to our 3ngrandchildren. There is nothing like family and I am so fortunate to have my kids all close to me again, so we can enjoy these holidays together. Have a wonderful Easter!

    • Thanks Sue, I hope your family had a wonderful Easter as well! The pictures of your grandchildren that you posted on FB look like they did. I find it interesting to listen to geographic differences in how holidays are celebrated.

  3. Wow, how cool that you did the Easter egg hunt at the WHite House! I love the old Easter pictures. We each got a new coat, hat and gloves each year for the occasion – good memories.

    • The White House Easter Egg Roll was exciting! I wish I weren’t too old to go (those nieces are now 27 and 29), but I can still at least purchase the commemorative eggs. BTW, the commemorative eggs are made in Maine. Go Maine!!!

  4. Loved this story Carol. And, the pictures. Yes, the tradition was I believe with all families. I know it was with mine and I brought my children up the same way with the new dress, hat, etc. for Easter church service.

  5. Perhaps a bit late, but I am just reading this now. Easter is one of my favorite Craley traditions. And who knows? Maybe in a few years we will have a new generation of kids to smuggle us wooden White House eggs…

    • That would be exciting! You have no idea the guilt I will always carry for teaching you and Lori to lie so I could have an egg. I mean… the guilt I will always carry for not reporting the abusive people I observed teaching kids to lie so that they (adults) could have an egg. But I do love my Presidential Easter Egg collection! Without mentioning names, I think I saw Bo take a bite out of the Republican in the basket!!

  6. Loved those pictures of you, and the descriptions brought back many memories for me, too, Carol. I loved my little white gloves with the pearl buttons. We were just up in Boston for Easter last week, and the daffodils were in abundance as was the forsythia, but nothing else. Down here in Virginia, we’re about a month ahead of you guys up there.

    • I was in Philly and DC the week leading up to Palm Sunday. The trip down was a treat watching the increase in leafing, greening and blooms. The trip back was a bummer as all of those blooms, leaves and spring colors were subtracted from the scenery. Leaves are just starting to come out now. Generally speaking we are about 1 month and 10 degrees behind my old homestead in Philadelphia. You are obviously more of a “lady” than I am Susan, I hated those gloves… gloves and turtlenecks have always made me feel confined… I must have been hung or choked in one of my past lives!

      • Ha-ha, Carol. I don’t know about being more of a little “lady” when I was growing up, but I loved dresses and I loved, loved, loved my new Easter hats every year. Now I don’t like to wear hats because I’m too vain and don’t like hat hair.

  7. I keep coming back, hoping to read more. Miss your writing.

  8. Carol, I am writing to you from Ideals Magazine and would like to talk with you about your piece “Memories of Easter Sundays Gone By.” We are interested in possibly including this in a future issue, but time is of the essence. Please contact us at idealsinfo@guideposts.org, or the email contact info below, as soon as possible. Thank you.

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