Dust off that Easter bonnet and reminisce

ESCANABA – Tucked away in a dark attic, all swaddled in faded tissue paper, sits an old Easter bonnet.

Forty years or more have come and gone since the frilly, little cap last saw daylight. But a few brisk shakes scatter the dust and fluff the lace.

It’s yesterday again. It’s Grandma’s days of Sunday best, bow ties, church shoes and the whole family around the dinner table.

The little white bonnet sits like an icon of the ultimate Easter joy. A small girl pulls the bonnet over her newly curled and combed hair. She dashes out into the cool April air with the smell of jelly-beans on her breath.

The cold wind sends the ribbons on her hat and the ruffles on her dress dancing. Her slippery white shoes skip in between the mud puddles. Joy is in the air and her family takes hold of her hand to lead her off to church.

It’s hard to sit still when you’re wearing an Easter bonnet. The elastic chin strap itches. But, if I remember correctly, how special it made the day.

If you can remember Easter bonnets, neck ties, white shirts and black leather polished shoes, then chances are you remember the true meaning of Easter.

Celebrating the risen Lord and the promise of new life has created many fun family traditions. From colored eggs to baked ham, Easter is a time for sharing. Bunnies, chicks, ducklings and lambs symbolize “new life.”

In Grandma’s day, Easter preparation started days before. The house was cleaned and the floors all mopped and waxed. The pickled eggs, baked beans and homemade sausages were readied for the special Sunday.

Every kid had new or newly handed down clothes to wear to church. The Easter Bunny visited all the homes regardless if the family’s beagles, free roaming cats or dogs were out or not. The baskets were hidden. Big old fashioned homes had so many closets, cubby holes, nooks and crannies that the basket hunts were awesome.

That solid milk chocolate Easter bunny, marshmallow Peeps, jelly beans and malted milk eggs were treats to be savored for weeks. Or in the case of some of my brothers (even after Mom’s warnings) gulped down in one day. Upset tummies and up-chuck messes resulted.

Mom always got an Easter lily or a gift. It was place on the bookshelf or on the TV with a pretty doily underneath it. Later, when my brothers had jobs, they’d often give my mom an orchid corsage to wear to church.

The smell of coffee, chocolate, Easter lilies and hard-boiled eggs are etched into my brain to mean Easter morning. Our extended family has gathered since I was a child to celebrate Easter. My mother taught us to tap Easter eggs together to see whose egg had the toughest shell, something she recalled her Russian father doing years before. Today we even have a traveling trophy to honor the Russian egg fighting champion each year.

Is there an old Easter bonnet hiding away in your attic, or perhaps some old Easter baskets? Reminisce with your family and let the joy of the season fill your days! Christos Voskres (Russian for Christ is risen)

Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.