The Waiting Room

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Memories

Posted by Seeking Solace |

One of my favorite childhood memories is spending Easter Sunday at my paternal great grandmother's house. My great grandmother had a two bedroom apartment in a three story building in the downtown area of my hometown. Despite its size, somehow, it was able to accommodate my father's extended family, which consisted of at least 30+ people who lived close enough to attend.

Back then, my brother, cousins and I would play in the alley outside the apartment. That's where we were sent, since we were going bat-shit crazy from the sugar high from all the candy and from having to sit still in church for what seemed like an eternity. No one worried about what we were doing out there, so long as we didn't get our dress clothes dirty. We played tag, rang the delivery doorbell of the store that was across the alley, running away pretending that someone was coming to answer the door. We sat on the stoop and played card games or whatever game we made up at the time.

Inside, the women would prepare the feast while the men laughed and shouted at the TV. Usually, the NBA playoffs were on. Soon, it would be time to dine on a feast of ham, chicken, mac-and-cheese, greens, pretty much your usual Sunday Soul Food fare.

Once we were fully into our food-induced coma, our moms would disappear. The moms would go to our paternal grandmother's house where they would hide plastic eggs with candy in them for the Easter egg hunt. Once we awoke from our slumber, the dads would take us to the Easter egg hunt. My grandmother lived on 3/4 of an acre with plenty of good places to hide Easter eggs.  With renewed energy, my brother, cousins and I would run around searching in vain for the colored eggs with the prize inside.

Once all the eggs were found, my great aunt would break out the ice cream. The parents were ready to relax as the music played and the card games began. 'No one had to work that Monday;; Easter Monday was also a holiday back then, so no one had to go to work. By 11 p.m., it was time to go home. Everyone had a great time which was full of family, food and festivities

Fast forward some 30-35 years. My great grandmother and grandmother have long since passed away, as well as my father. My dad's siblings are still around, but no one seemed to pick up the tradition. My brother and cousins are all grown with families and traditions of their own. Of the nine cousins, four live far from where we grew up.  We don't see each other as much as we did back then, because  time, distance and life seems to get in the way. Someone else lives in the apartment that belonged to my great grandmother. My grandmother's house was sold and is a shadow of the grand home it once was. It was renovated with a ugly extension to accommodate four apartments, which makes me shudder every time I see it when I visit my hometown.

It's sad in some ways that those great traditions are lost. But, I am happy that I had the chance to enjoy them. And, I can enjoy them in my memory.


TiredProf said...

What a lovely story! Thanks for sharing this!

Rebecca said...

We were reminiscing today, too, and I actually found out some interesting things I didn't know before. But the nostalgia made some things seem okay, when I know they would feel ridiculously uncomfortable today.

For instance, my maternal grandparents had a place on the now infamous Grand Isle LA, to which they added an old school bus. The bus was put up on blocks and cots were placed inside to use as overflow bedding. My mother had five siblings, and they all had kids around the same ages, so plenty of overflow was needed.

The windows were left open, and I remember thinking that this sleeping arrangement was the coolest thing ever. But I know good and well how hot it gets on the island, and even with a breeze nights are not always what I would consider bearable. Plus, summer is hurricane season, which means lots of rain. And lots of rain often means lots of mosquitoes. Nobody is sleeping outside with windows open to a swarm of mosquitoes, I promise you.

But remembering that school bus still feels like something special.