Easter Past. Easter Present.
Easter was always a big deal when I was growing up. We dressed up in new Easter outfits and dutifully went to Good Friday and Easter Sunday services. One year, my Sunday School class put on a sunrise service play. My role was the wife of Pontius Pilate, who had exactly one line. The play was to take place in a nearby park, but it snowed (this was Toledo, of course), so we had to move it inside.
There were always Easter baskets for us five kids filled with goodies, including sugar eggs that had a view of bunnies inside. I especially remember my dad's parents giving each of us a large, heavy chocolate egg with cream filling studded with fruit and nuts. Consume too much of it and your teeth hurt. A big family dinner always capped off the afternoon.
One Easter incident always makes me laugh. My mom had filled our baskets on Saturday night. Easter morning, she gets a frantic call from the mother of my good friend Kathy Barnum. Their springer spaniel Maggie had gotten into their kid's baskets and consumed all the candy, including the foil wrappers. In those days, everything was closed on Sunday, even drugstores, so replacing the candy was impossible. My mom raided our baskets, added whatever leftover candy she had and shared it with the Barnum kids. Not sure how Maggie survived eating that much chocolate, which is very toxic to dogs.
I think no one will forget 2020 Easter. Church services moved online. Big family dinners were verboten. No Easter egg hunts. New York's fabled Easter Parade was called off. So what to do to mark the day? I had colored a dozen eggs with Lena and Noah earlier in the week. Since we couldn't get together for dinner, I decided to make a special brunch and deliver it to the homes of Alison and Hannah. Andy and I made spinach and cheese strata, accompanied by sausages and bacon. I baked an Easter dessert I love, a rice flan studded with golden raisins baked in a sweet pastry crust. A plate of fresh berries topped it all off.
We decided to drive into downtown Dallas to get out of the house on this beautiful morning. It was a ghost town. A few people dotted the streets, keeping a distance from one another. Restaurants were closed, parks were empty and normally busy avenues deserted. We were astonished to see a young Catholic priest attired in full vestments and purple latex gloves standing at the edge of a parking lot, waving and smiling at everyone.
A TV ad running right now assures us that soon there will be family dinners, weddings, baseball games, concerts and other gatherings. I hope so. The novelty of sheltering in place has gotten old. I'm tired of ordering groceries online and only getting part of what I wanted. I'm weary of cooking at home. I want our family to get together for our Sunday dinners. Most of all, I want the sad headlines to go away. I pray for the families who will never share another Easter with loved ones who have fallen victim to COVID-19, and for our country and the world.
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I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.