As a child, Easter Sunday was a very big deal in our household., or should I say getting ready for it. Weeks before, we would get our Easter Sunday speeches from our Sunday School teacher. If you were really young you got One or two lines to memorize. And as you got older, you got more lines. And we practiced for weeks for our Easter program at church.
Also a week before, mama and daddy took us to Robert Hall Store to get our Easter outfits. My brothers got new suits and shirts. My sister and I got new dresses with crinkly can cans, purses, white gloves and hats, always with chin straps. Then we would then go over to Hills Bros. shoes where you could get shoes, 2 pair for $5. I always wanted patent leather with a bow on them cause I usually had a patent leather purse.
We never seemed to be able to sleep the night before Easter Sunday for many reasons. Fist, we were nervous about giving our Easter speeches. Secondly, we could not wait to get up and get ready. With 5 of us kids, we took our baths the night before. In fact, the Saturday night bath was pretty much a ritual. Thirdly, I was excited because mama would curl my hair with the hot curling iron and that was always a treat. Daddy would handle getting my brothers ready, greasing and combing their hair and shining their shoes. Mama would do our hair and help us with our things. While all of this was happening, we would have Sunday morning gospel records playing. Usually Mahaila Jackson or one of the many male quartet groups, which daddy especially liked. Once we kids got dressed, then came the threats. Our parents would threaten us to within an inch of our lives not to get dirty or mess our clothes up until we were ready to leave the house. I would fold my speech up and put it in my purse because the Easter program would be during an afternoon church program.
Breakfast was also special on Easter Sunday morning. Before we would get totally dressed, Mama would make homemade biscuits and I could help roll the dough and use the top of a water glass to cut out the round shapes. She would make salmon patties with rice, which I always loaded with butter and sugar. We often had molasses with butter stirred in for the biscuits.
Another big part of Easter Sunday morning was opening our Easter baskets. I loved all the candy and always saved my chocolate rabbits to eat last. Mama usually only let us have a little bit and save the majority of the treats so we wouldn’t get sick.
Church was always packed on Easter Sunday and the ushers always had to bring in extra chairs to sit at the ends of each row. Church service always seemed longest on Easter too. But the choir was always wonderful and when I got older, I became a member. Easter Sunday was not Easter Sunday unless we sang Calvary.
After church we would come home, take off our church clothes and put on robes, and quickly get the dinner on the table so we could eat, redress, and get ready to go back for our 4:00 service. Usually mama made most of the dinner the day before so we only had to heat things and make additional vegetables and rolls. When I think back on the afternoon Easter program, I now wonder how my parents endured all the speeches each child gave. I am sure there were 30 speeches or more. Some kids were terrified, some stumbled, muttered or proudly stood up and did their thing. All I know is, I started to breathe only after my turn was over.
And as I became older, the whole aura of Easter shifted and the focus moved from childlike wonder to actually recognizing the true reason for celebrating—-Christ’s victory over death. His sacrificial love for each of us that is truly a reason to don our best and worship him in praise. But I will cherish the memories and hold on those Easter Sunday mornings so long ago which were special and unforgettable.