One of my favorite memories is waking up early on Easter morning to the spring sunlight streaming through my bedroom window. The air felt new and crisp throughout the house; the smell of eggs and sugar told me it was a special, pastel day full of surprises.
My nightgown fluttered as I ran to the kitchen table where five Easter baskets waited in a jumble for my brothers and me. Mine was the one covered with pink cellophane and full of hair barrettes, white-chocolate bunnies — my favorite — and hidden treasures inside that wonderful green plastic grass.
My brothers were pushy and loud around the table; grabbing baskets and then squeezing the plastic grass into balls and tossing it aside to grab the goodies beneath.
Mom told to pick just a couple of things to eat and then go and get ready for church. We walked in time to our groans as we headed back to our bedrooms. Our clothes had been laid out the night before and we grumbled our way into them.
We usually had new outfits for Easter. They were always bright, usually stiff and always scratchy, but that was part of the holiday. My dress was pastel-colored and my socks had lacy tops that folded down just so.
Ties strangled my brothers’ necks and pants with knife-sharp creases rubbed against their bony knees as they trudged from their bedrooms into the living room where Mom waited.
We saw the foil-wrapped, buttery toast she held in her hands. On Easter we always ate toast on the way to church. It was warm and gooey and we tried our best not to get all crumby. Mom held out paper towel squares for our hands.
The sunlight was bright on Easter. It was as if the trees were spreading their branches apart to let the sun guide us to church. New leaves, tender-green and tiny, waved slightly in the April breezes as we rolled past.
We knew there would be an Easter egg hunt at church after services; rain or shine, it always happened. Three or four moms would leave the sanctuary during the final minutes of the sermon to hide eggs outside in the lime-green sprigs of new grass that surrounded the building.
We always promised not to look out the windows during the invitation, but we always did. The adults pretended not to notice our disobedience as we craned our necks above our hymnals to see the bent-over bodies that placed each egg here and there.
On rainy years, the hunt would be in the church basement. The moment the last “AMEN” was pronounced, we ran to the foyer, thundered down the stairs and picked up a basket or egg carton that waited on a table. The moms scattered eggs along high windowsills and against the metal chair legs that surrounded long tables.
Inside hunts were not as much fun, because the space was tiny. But it was still exciting. The adults ticked off the list of locations and egg count. A hard-boiled egg was left behind once, and once was enough.
Easter at church was over in a flash and it was time to drive home. We cradled the eggs we had found and climbed in the car, excited to use them over and over in our yard. By the end of the day, they were crushed and cracked, and our dog, Annie, had even found a few.
Easter is the sweetest day of springtime and full of warm memories.
Robin Garrison Leach is a freelance writer and columnist from Quincy, Illinois.”Robin Writes” is published in numerous Missouri and Illinois newspapers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org