I grew up on a little farm, on the outskirts of a small village in the Rocky Mountains with my parents, two sisters and little brother. Spring was such a relief after a long cold winter. Although beautiful, I never regretted saying adios to the blanket of snow. The chickadees marked the near end of the chill with their lovely song of “springs here, springs here.”
Spring meant sleeping in the hay barn awaiting the births of new lambs; running down a muddy dirt road and wet fields to the school bus; gathering the last bit of sap from the maple trees, and tapping the birch trees; cozy candle lit evenings with no power; looking for the beautiful, delicate lady slipper flowers; picking stinging nettles for dinner; feeling the warm sun on our faces and then looking through the trunk for hand-me-down summer dresses that might just finally fit; blowing out eggs to decorate for Easter. Oh Easter! The spring celebration that was, and still is my all time favourite holiday.
After Easter Sunday mass, the whole extended family (many uncles, pregnant aunts, and a few dozen rambunctious cousins) met on my grandparents’ beautiful farm for a potluck feast. Everybody would bring something special to eat. Easter wasn’t Easter without lemon curd butter on homemade hot-cross-buns, blueberry cheesecake and of course the many homemade pies. As a child, I was always most excited for the desserts, so those are dishes that first come to mind. Children were everywhere. Us girls would gather on the stairs nibbling on our food, and discussing the best tactics for the big Hunt.
We were all sugar deprived children who came from very health conscious families, so even the thought of all the chocolate hidden up past the hay fields in the neck of the woods had us bouncing off the walls. Once let loose, we ran hard, slightly panicked that the other children would find more goodies. We searched for hours, scanning the rocks, the trees, little holes and under leaves, determined not to miss a single shiny chocolate. We always had very clever bunnies who hid some very difficult ones.
The celebration lasted all day. We ran off the chocolate high with epic hide-and-go-seek competitions. The fiddles and banjo would come out of their cases to accompany the piano and we would sing and dance, stomp our feet and clap our hands. The cousins could always convince the parents to let us bigger girls (from 6 years old and onward) to have a sleepover in the hay barn. Up we went with sleeping bags in hand and our pockets filled with midnight treats. We snuggled in, making comfortable bed nests out of loose hay, talking into night with no parents to hush us, interrupted only by the sounds of an occasional bell or the bleatting of sheep.
Perhaps it is me being nostalgic, or romanticizing memories from my childhood, but I will claim my recollections to be accurate and true (family is welcome to comment if you think otherwise.) In short, Easter was always perfect; how could it not be wonderful with some much family around.
As a mother now, I watch my two sons run around our fenced yard in Squamish, B.C. Their upbringing is far from the freedom and open range grounds of farm living. There are no lambs being born, no hay barn to sleep in, no aunties with baby bellies or cousins close by to play with. Easter for them will not be the same as it was for me as a child…but I hope for similar greatness nevertheless.
This year we expected rain on Easter Sunday, but we couldn’t let weather disgruntle the good mood. The day started out with my son Kai discovering that his hen had laid her first egg on Easter morning! We had invited our community of friends. Many of them, like us, have no relatives nearby to celebrate with. My husband set-up tarps and party tents in the backyard in preparation for a wet afternoon and evening. Chairs, benches and stumps were assembled, and a big tablecloth spread over the outside table. I happily spent my time in the kitchen baking my favourite pies and Easter braided bread. I put on my blue and white polka-dot dress (which makes me look like a decorated egg or Little Bo Peep) and ran around with a basket full of chocolates and stashed eggs in just the right hiding places.
When the families arrived, it couldn’t have made me happier. The children all wore the same expression of anticipation and thrill before the big Hunt. Our yard filled up with around 50 adults and 50 children. It was a scene of excitement, chaos, and high pitched squealing joy… pure deliciousness. Our big table was filled with an array of potluck delight, and plates and bellies were filled. The sun came out, the Hunt ran its course, the fire pit was lit, and the many friends came together to be our family. My older son Kai had a friend sleepover. I turned a blind eye to their late night chocolate consumption and I chuckled as they laughed and jumped on the trampoline until 11:00pm. The next morning, they told me it was the best Easter party. I beamed.