|Easter 1954, at our first house in Centreville, VA|
The services I remember the best were Palm Sunday when everyone was given a palm frond to take home--it would hang over our dining room door all year. Then there was Maundy Thursday, I think, and the Washing of the Feet? Elder men in the church would take off their shoes and socks and the priest would wash their feet. I was fascinated to see all those bony white feet, although I have to say the symbolism of the event escaped my notice.
There was the Stations of the Cross too. Our church had beautiful stained glass windows depicting the stations, and we would move from one to the other, saying the special prayers required for each.
And confession. Oh dear. Mine were pathetically the same almost every time I went: I was mean to my brothers, I fought with my sisters, I answered back to my mother...the sins of childhood hung heavy on my head.
|Same Easter, 1954, at St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Centreville, VA|
The Saturday before Easter was a busy day. The house had to be cleaned top to bottom, and then our dresses had to chosen and ironed, white ankle socks (hopefully with lace at the tops) and crinoline slips laid out, patent leather shoes shined with Vaseline, and our Easter hats refreshed with new fake flowers. We could buy sprays of flowers at the dime store for a dime, actually--we could really splurge and spend 19 cents or even (gasp!) 29 cents for really fancy ones. New ribbon trim was added too. Sometimes we had white gloves, and I remember once having a pair of pink ones--and sometimes we had little handbags too, dainty little things that just charmed me and probably didn't survive long after I got it.
I don't remember the boys being in the same uproar about getting outfits ready but for us girls it was a real flurry of excitement and anxiety.
Easter Sunday began early, with many of us going to the 9:00 am Mass. Dad usually went to the 7:30--I'm not sure why, but that was his habit. I think on Easter we all went together, filling a pew and then some. It had to have been stressful for Mom trying to keep us all behaving properly through the long service. But with Dad there, no one dared get too far out of line.
When we got home, there would be a big Easter breakfast and we would get our Easter baskets. Then our parents would disappear outside for a while. They would be hiding the eggs they'd dyed late the night before, about 12 dozen--really! The older children, me included, got to help with the dying when we no longer believed in the Easter Bunny, which meant that sometimes white gloves on Easter Sunday were for more than looks because our fingers were multi-colored.
|Easter Sunday, sometime in the early 1980's|
|Mom on probably the same Easter, early 1980's|
By evening we were back to normal: squabbling, fighting over who took whose candy (confession the next week was far away at that point!), arguing over whose turn it was to wash the dishes. But the magic of the day, and the awe of the morning service and of the whole Easter story of tragedy, pain, redemption and exultation hung over us all for days to come.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.