My mother is central to my Easter memories. She made Easter (and every other holiday) special in my life. I don’t know how she pulled it off. I don’t know if she enjoyed it. I know there was a keen sense of duty among her and the other women in my family to do the best for us, to fulfill what, in their generation, was what mothers did.
Mom made Easter outfits for herself, my sister and me and sometimes helped sew outfits for my grandmother and aunts. When my brother was a young boy, she even made suits for him with shorts. Sometimes, she also dyed our shoes to match our outfits. There was even a period when she, my grandmother and my aunt made their own hats.
She pressed and curled my sister, my and her hair – a long undertaking with a lot of squirming and protests on our parts.
She made a huge dinner: yeast rolls from scratch, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, deviled eggs, candied yams, greens, lemon or white cake, banana pudding, sweet potato pie, ham, roast or fried chicken and, sometimes, barbecued ribs or pork steaks. And jello – can’t forget the jello.
She dyed Easter eggs with us and hid them around the house and outside for us to find.
We all went to church – two services every Sunday. Mom typically stayed up half the night getting everything done and then got up and fixed breakfast and got us all ready for church. Easter was extra special. The outfits were more elaborate. One year she made matching linen suits for my sister and me in pastel colors. We had hats with ribbons to match.
They don’t make women like that anymore. Even though I make a big dinner from scratch, I’m not doing all the other things she did. The times don’t require them.
It was wonderful to have the Easters my mom provided as we grew up. As an adult, I can recognize the sacrifice she made and the fact that pretty much all of the preparations fell on her shoulders, including shopping for the groceries for dinner and fabric for our clothes, and buying our patent leather shoes (with matching purses).
(This is not an Easter photo – I don’t have any of those. This is a photo taken in our home by the hospital photographer shortly after my brother was born. Mom made those dresses.)
What has remained, from those times, is that in St. Louis the family will go to church and there will be a sit down dinner (even if not altogether homemade), and everyone will look fabulous (even if casual). The love doesn’t stop.
Thank you, Mom, for all you did (and continue to do) for us.