When I was small, Easter meant a pretty new dress, sometimes even the proverbial bonnet (although I never much cared for wearing hats, and still don’t). Easter always meant shiny black patent leather shoes, Mary Jane style, which, though delightful to look at, caused much pain to my fat little foot that bulged out over the top of the T strap in the podiatrist’s version of a muffin top.
In those days, Easter meant baskets with chocolate bunnies I could never bring myself to eat because I was afraid of “hurting” them if I bit the ears off.
But the best part of my Easter basket was always the book.
Yes, only I would care more about the book in the basket than the candy – although I did make short shrift of the jelly beans hidden in the folds of that plastic Easter grass.
But it was the book that was the most rewarding.
I got my first copy of Little Women in an Easter basket.
For a few years there were Laura Ingalls Wilder books in the Easter basket.
Once I found A Wrinkle in Time tucked in amongst some gold chocolate coins, and I became lifelong “friends” with its author, Madeleine L’Engle.
Neither of my parents were children’s literature aficionados. Neither of them had read any of these books themselves. Yet somehow they knew I needed to read them, needed the exposure to different worlds through the eyes of the March sisters, the Ingalls family, and Charles and Meg Wallace.
My childhood Easter observance probably involved a dinner of country ham, scalloped potatoes and homemade southern-style biscuits (my Kentucky grandmother lived with us in those days, and she and my mother made a formidable combination in the kitchen). But the best part was when dinner was over and I could retreat to one of the big wing chairs in the living room corner and tuck into the pages of my new book.
I’ve been meandering through Facebook pages today, enjoying the photos and posts that allow a sneak peek at my friends Easter traditions, their family celebrations, their church services. I’ve spent the day in my “comfy” clothes, certainly not bothering with fancy dresses, bonnets, or uncomfortable shoes. I finished one of the books I was reading, and lolled around on the sofa with another.
Sometimes I worry that I live a little bit too vicariously through the pages of books, including the Facebook “pages” we’ve come to take for granted as a way of connecting with friends and family scattered across different time zones. But books have always been the way I treat myself, no matter what the holiday, and though I may have outgrown the other bits of Easter finery I’ll never outgrow my love of stories and the written word.