The Easters of my childhood were special. My Mom always sewed my sister Kaaren and me beautiful new dresses for Easter. We had new Easter bonnets to match. Sometimes little white gloves and a new purse were also part of the outfit.
We wore white bobby socks and it was my Dad’s job to polish all of our shoes on Saturday night for church the next day. Look how dapper my brother Ken is all spiffed up for church on Easter Sunday in his bow tie and new hat. On Easter Sunday morning without fail the congregation sang Up From the Grave He Arose and I loved how the rich male voices boomed out on the first few notes of the chorus.
Here we are coloring Easter eggs with my Mom. It is obviously Saturday night because we girls have our hair in curlers which was the ritual the night before church on Sunday. My Dad often planted flats of fresh green sprouting barley for us to put the eggs in after we had colored them.
Easter was also a time to visit with extended family. Here we are with my cousin Carol. When we went to my father’s parents’ home in Gnadenthal on Easter Sunday afternoon my grandma would have a special individual Easter basket prepared for each of her 17 grandchildren. Every basket was carefully labeled with one of our names. My grandpa would hide these baskets at various locations all over the farmyard.
Get togethers at my grandparents invariably started with a game of ‘dress up’. Two elderly ladies had lived in a second house on my grandparents’ yard and had left all kinds of clothes behind when they died. We had lots of fun dressing up, until Grandpa would give the signal and then we’d go off searching for our Easter baskets. They might be in the cream separator, the chicken coop, the hayloft, on the seat of a tractor, in the machine shed where the combine was kept or behind the cistern. If we found a basket with anyone else’s name on it but our own we had to keep it a secret and continue to search for our own treats. After we’d found our baskets there would be a delicious faspa served. Faspa is a Low German Mennonite word for a light lunch served on Sunday in the late afternoon. This would include paska, a special Easter bread that is part of the Mennonite heritage from the time our families lived in Ukraine. It is a sweet bread made with lots of eggs and has white icing on the crust. We kids played outside or in the living room till the adults had finished eating and then it was our turn at the diningroom table.
I am grateful to my parents and grandparents for giving me such warm and happy memories of Easter.