Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Easter's Second Rate Status

Now if my pastor saw what I just wrote, she'd flip.   She's all about the inward journey you're supposed to take during Lent.   But, realistically, Easter Sunday never garners the same magic that Christmas has.  I mean, let's face it, there are no radio channels exclusively devoted to Easter music.  How many times can you listen to Judy Garland sing "Easter Parade?"

Plus there are no gifts and really no groundswell of family and friends gathering.  There's the whole Easter bonnet thing and the basket full of candy, but really nothing else.   And, frankly, there is no song that proclaims "nobody should be alone on Easter."

And that's the way Easter has evolved.  The last few years, Easter fell in the regular MLB season so I spent it with a Dodger Dog at Chavez Ravine.  This year,  I'll probably come home from church, get into some sweats, and watch a Biblical epic on Blu Ray.  

That's not to say that my family didn't try to make Easter as important as other holidays back when I was a kid.  The religious importance was emphasized as well it should be.

It always started with Good Friday.   Now this featured a reverence that was drummed into my head.

First of all, it would be the one day all year that my grandparents would actually go to church.   There was a German language service at our St. Peter's Lutheran on 219th Street in the Bronx.   This was a big deal for them.  

At home, my own parents got into the Good Friday swing of things.  Even though we were Protestants, it would be the single day of the year where Mom and Dad insisted that I not eat meat.  To this very day, I think about this edict and try to keep it going.   Also extremely difficult in those years where Good Friday fell during the baseball season and I would be...gasp...eating a Dodger Dog.   I'd argue that there probably wasn't all that much meat into a Farmer John wiener any way.

Then there was the uber-religious kid in my neighborhood who scared the pellets out of me one Good Friday.   A devout Catholic, this guy told me that he had it on good authority...from whatever nun was teaching him that year...the skies would always darken from 12 noon to 3PM every Good Friday to mark Jesus' time on the cross.  Uh huh.  I'd contend that this was illogical.   Would the dark clouds adhere to time zones?   For instance, was this darkness going to happen 12 Noon to 3PM Eastern and 11AM to 2PM Central time?  

Of course, just as this phenomenon was shared with me, the clouds did get dark and somber that Good Friday.   And, for a moment or two, I thought this lunatic was right.  It did give this nine-year-old pause to think.

For a while when I was a kid, Easter did have a family aura.   There would be big dinners at a rotation of relatives' houses.   But, quickly, this was the first holiday that would fall off the communal grid.   Too many arguments and not enough ham.   Indeed, I can recall one Easter Sunday where my father and mother ordered out for a bucket of chicken.

But I was encouraged to go to church service nonetheless and my mother would always deck me in a new outfit for the holiday.   I remember vividly a blue double-breasted blazer that made me look like a game show host.   And, of course, you'll notice the Easter photo at the top of this page.   A rare family photograph with me in a red sports jacket that screamed St. Louis Cardinals.  I note that my father is in a suit and that was rare unless there was a wedding or a funeral.   I didn't even bury my dad in a suit.  It didn't look right.  Also, when I previously ran this photo, a good friend from grade school recognized that fire engine red ensemble because, apparently, her brother wore it when I outgrew it. 

And then, of course, there's this scary photo of an Easter Sunday.
What was my mother thinking with this hat on me?  I look like Bing Crosby Junior.  Or worse?  A character in a reboot of David Lynch's Twin Peaks.

Yep, as I look back at Easters past, the memories are scattered and eclectic. Nothing like Christmas.   But, then again, isn't the religious connotation for this holiday the complete antithesis of joy and merriment?  On the surface, yes.   

But that's where my pastor's voice comes in loud and clear.   It really does promote joy.

Got it.

Dinner last night:   Teriyaki vegetable bowl.


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