Time for the Easter Parade

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's time for the Easter parade.

When I was a teenager I remember buying an Easter outfit to wear to church on Sunday morning. My dress was a navy blue dotted Swiss with a full-tiered skirt. My new white dress shoes had about a two inch heel. I had white lace gloves to match and a white purse.

I knew that lots of little girls and their mothers would be wearing frilly Easter bonnets, too. The bonnets the mothers wore were often decorated with flowers and a net veil that covered the eyes.

It was the fashion to wear an Easter bonnet to herald the return of spring.

For over 100 years New York City has held an Easter parade to celebrate the day. Women in their Easter bonnets and Easter attire take a stroll down Fifth Avenue on the arms of their escorts.

Easter was the first day we traded our winter blacks and browns for the traditional white sandals or white heels. It would have been in poor taste to wear white accessories before Easter.

And, of course, there were the Easter baskets the children carried as they hunted for eggs hidden in branches of trees, in tuffs of grass, or behind a rock. Hunting for eggs was always a part of the Easter tradition at my house.

But, first, we had to color the boiled eggs. This was a much anticipated activity. My mom would take six or eight coffee cups from a shelf, then place them on the counter or tabletop. She would pour boiling water into each cup, about three fourths full. Then we would open the dye kit and drop one round dye tablet; red, blue, yellow, green or purple into the individual cups. We watched while the dye began to spread and turn the boiling water into beautiful colors. We would take a spoon and stir the dye until it became a uniform color.

Then we dipped a boiled egg into each of the cups and waited for the magical transformation. Out would come an egg in a rose colored hue, or bright green, or buttercup yellow or red. A red egg was a symbol of the blood of Christ. The hard shell of the egg symbolized the sealed tomb of Christ; a reminder that Jesus rose from the grave, alive.

We would set each egg aside to dry before we placed them into our baskets or took them outside for the Easter egg hunt.

The scene changes.

A mother lies in a hospital bed a few days before Easter Sunday.

The baby she was expecting was stillborn, and she is sad.

She thinks about her young daughter and son at home, being cared for by their grandmother.

Their new Easter baskets are hidden away, high on a closet shelf, to be brought out as a surprise on Easter Sunday.

Caught unaware, the mother had not yet bought Easter outfits for the children. She thought she had plenty of time to do that.

What kind of Easter would they have?

She had many visitors in the hospital. One friend said she didn't want to impose, but she had bought a purple organdy dress for the friend's daughter for Easter. It was a gift, she said.

Another friend said she would see that the daughter wore it to church on Easter Sunday.

The mother cried, thankful for friends.

It was a good Friday.