Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter through the Years: Love, Family, Chocolate, and Beer

From skiing in Canada to holidays in London, Paris, and Barcelona, Easter has always been a time of heightened memories and connections for me.  Today’s post is a series of Easter snapshots through the years. Have you had particularly memorable Easter time holidays?

At 12

Thanks to my relatively new stepmother, I got a fancy dress for church on Easter Sunday. In the old black and white photo below, I'm in our backyard wearing the ivory-colored lace dress, with a ribbon that loops around my waist and ties in back. I’m standing a bit slouched, arms at my sides, half-smiling. Really I felt too old for such a dress, but I tried to act pleased for the sake of my stepmother. 

I really wanted to be a hippie instead of a sixth-grader bound to elementary school.

At 18  

I was coerced by my friend Janis into donning a blobby white Easter Bunny outfit with floppy ears for the Girls’ League Easter Egg Hunt.  I run around and try to act bouncy and enthusiastic, but the little kids mostly ignore me. They are much more interested in snagging candy Easter eggs in the grass. Janis owes me.

At 21

Jet-lag hasn’t stopped me from running around exploring Paris, where I just arrived for spring quarter abroad.  I’m amazed by the confections in the patisseries and confisseries  I walk past. Later I squeeze into Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral for Easter mass.  It’s so crowded that we only make it 10 yards or so past the front door, and my only view (but an awesome view) is up to the soaring, vaulted-arch ceiling and stained glass windows. Later, some friends and I wait in the rain at a phone booth in the Latin Quarter (pre-cell phone days). The phone was broken by the Iranian students, so the rumor goes, so we can call anywhere in the world for free. We meet a girl from Colorado College in line who knows someone in our group, and I realize for the first time that it’s truly a small world. I call my parents and wish them a happy Easter.

Age 23

This time around it’s Easter in London, where I’m spending the semester. A nice woman I met at church invited me home for Easter dinner.  At their flat I’m greeted by Corrine, her husband, and her husband’s stepbrother David, who’s about my age and attractive but shy. The husband is gaga over their cat and speaks to it in tones usually used for infants. After dinner we all go for a long walk in a nearby park, then return to the flat for tea and hot-cross buns. This is so English! Mostly I’m grateful for their hospitality and kindness to a young woman visiting alone from America. When it’s time to leave at the end of the afternoon, Corinne presents me with a foil-wrapped chocolate Easter egg.

Age 25

I meet my siblings and their families for an extravagant brunch at the Seattle Sheraton. Although my older siblings and I are not particularly religious anymore, we still celebrate Easter for the sake of tradition. While I’m gingerly holding my 4-week-old niece Lindsey, my sister leans to me and says quietly, “You know this is the 20th anniversary of our mother’s death.” I didn’t remember since I was only 5 at the time. I look into my niece’s sleepy eyes and wish her a long and happy life.

Age 30

My boyfriend Dave and I escaped to Whistler Mountain in Canada to ski, avoiding family obligations. Dave, a flatlander from Chicago, gets sunburned, but I remembered my zinc oxide. We grab a couple Cadbury chocolate crème eggs in celebration of the holiday and down them with a bottle of good champagne after coming off the slopes. I am in love. With Dave. With life.

Age 34

Back at Whistler/Blackcomb in Canada for skiing with a different group of friends. Dave and I broke up last year. I’ve just gotten a layoff notice. A late-season storm has dumped lots of fresh snow, and we make figure eights in the wide open Blackcomb Glacier snowfield. While I’m no longer in love with Dave or even life in general, I’m in love with the moment, with making fresh tracks.  This year there’s no sign of Easter. I brought a bag of foil-covered  chocolate eggs to share with the group. They drink more beer instead.

Age 39

My sister Anne awakens me at 6 a.m. by turning on the TV in our hotel room, the day after arriving in Barcelona. I carried a chocolate Easter egg from Seattle in my suitcase for my sister and am pleased when she smiles at this gesture. After breakfast, we visit the Sagrada de Familia, a whimsical late 19th century cathedral.  What strikes me about this Easter Sunday in Catholic Spain is how casually everyone is dressed at the cathedral. I even see people in sweat suits. This is not the Spain I visited in college, when women wore conservative dark skirts and sweaters in public, hair tied back. Is this the Americanization of the world?

Just a few years later

A few days before Easter and I’m trying to find some special, Old World Easter culinary tradition to share with my stepmother in Portland. The most authentic Italian deli in Seattle is not doing their special Easter bread this year—they are too busy making fresh gelato for upscale restaurants around town.  I’m too busy to bake anything myself. It’s a busy world—too busy. I’m looking forward to the leisurely train ride to Portland, where I’ve not spent Easter for many years. I promise myself to slow down and savor the rebirth and renewal that this holiday, this season engenders.  


I hope you do, too. 



Anne said...

You have such great memories of this holiday and have done so many fun things! I don't remember the brunch at the Sheraton but maybe that is because the four week old infant you held had not yet learned to sleep more than two hours at a time and everything was blurry. And I was feeling sorry because I had not had a wonderful holiday abroad like you have had till suddenly you mention Barcelona! I had forgotten we were there over Easter! What a great city and lovely place to spend Easter. I hope you continue have experiences to remember.

jill said...

Hey Anne! Hope you had a great Easter dinner.

Janis Olson said...

Jill, You're right, I owe you big time. Next Cadbury egg's on me

Unknown said...

Jill, what a lovely journey through your life with an "Easter" lense. Your blog continues to be rich! thank you! Karen

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing your stories with us. I really enjoyed reading them!

Jill said...

Thanks Rachel! Happy to fond your blogs too.

Kathleen O'Dell said...

Did you have to wear white gloves on Easter AND one of those hats with the elastic under the chin? As for the role as Easter Bunny, I cannot picture you doing that with total enthusiasm. Even as a teenager, you were more of a classy-type girl.