As I drove out of my driveway one morning this week I was transported back in time to the days when my children were little and Easter meant an egg hunt on the front lawn.
The home we now live in is where my husband grew up and when our children were young that is where their grandmother lived. In those days her mother, my children’s great-grandmother, would come to visit quite often for the holidays.
My husband’s aunt and uncle from south Georgia would come up to Canton for Easter and their son and his family would also join us so we would have a nice crowd.
Everyone would be in their Easter finery, with the children decked out in new clothes and shoes, freshly trimmed hair for the boys, bonnets and hats for the girls.
Even the adults would be in their cheeriest spring outfits.
I was usually tired after staying up late to put the final touches on my two little ones’ Easter outfits and baskets. I was certainly no seamstress but I would try to smock and make my daughter’s Easter outfit.
I wanted her to have elaborate dresses but the cost was prohibitive for me in those days, so I would try to replicate the look myself.
Being the procrastinator I am, that usually meant stitching late into the night and calling my good friend Judy to help at the last minute to get the outfit complete on time.
But somehow I would pull it all together, set out the decorated baskets filled with little treats and fall into the bed to get a few hours sleep before being awakened by the happy voices of my son and daughter.
These days my husband and I are BC, which means between children. Our own are grown but have not yet presented us with any grandchildren.
So I get nostalgic for those days when my own children were young and Easter was a time of running through the yard searching for eggs and getting dressed up for Sunday morning worship.
My mother-in-law in those days always dyed a bunch of real Easter eggs and hid them in the lush green grass on her front lawn and in the ivy beds that surrounded the trees.
The children would hunt them over and over. They would find them and then beg us to hide them again so the hunt could be repeated.
I can still see them scampering around, with my son gleeful that he found more than his sister, showing them off to her and bringing a pout to her face.
Then grown-ups would step in and point out a few for her in the favorite hiding places and a smile would come out as bright as the sun peaking from behind the clouds on a stormy day.
Somewhere along the way in the afternoon’s festivities my husband’s uncle, who was an amateur photographer, would line us all up on the green grass for a family photo.
Those were the days before digital cameras and a camera on every phone. His camera was impressively big and we all thought it took wonderful pictures.
The sky was so blue, the grass was so green and we all looked so young and happy.
I can’t even easily lay my hands on any of those photographs, but I can still see them clearly in my mind’s eye.
We are frozen in time on a balmy Easter afternoon when life seemed to stretch endlessly before us, when the most I had to worry about was whether my daughter found enough eggs, and in a time when things seemed so simple.
Of course Easter’s religious significance is the most important part of the holiday and this week’s Maundy Thursday service at my church was especially moving and significant for me.
I look forward to Easter Sunday for church. But I miss the trappings that children and a big family close by bring.
Our uncle died many years ago, and great-grandmother too. Others have aged, with my husband’s mother and aunt both in their 90s now.
My own children are grown and married, my daughter living in another state; the other nieces and nephews are now adults, some with children of their own, scattered about the country and we seldom see them these days.
Times have changed, and that is why I cherish that photograph still so clear in my mind that freezes that sunny Easter afternoon when my children were young.
Rebecca Johnston is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.