Easter arrives tomorrow. The word brings memories of hats, white gloves, packed churches, lilies and tulips, colored eggs, colorful baskets, chocolate bunnies, stuffed bunnies, ham, sweet potato casserole, family, and the return of alleluias.

That’s a lot of memories for one six-letter word but the memories come from decades of life.

When I was a child Easter for me meant a new pair of white gloves, an Easter hat and sometimes, a new dress for Sunday morning church. I remember many of the ladies wore hats and gloves to church on Easter Sunday when I was growing up. I’m not even sure when that stopped. One hardly sees any hats in church nowadays. In some ways I miss that trend. I’m sure it wasn’t fun if you ended up seated behind someone wearing a hat with a wide brim as you likely wouldn’t have been able to see the pulpit and the preacher but even with that risk, I wouldn’t mind if the trend returned – at least for Easter.

I don’t remember flowers decorating the church altar area when I was a child as they do now for Easter service. There are the white Easter lilies, colorful tulips and hyacinths providing the look and scent of spring as parishioners file past during communion.

Of course there is also the memory of the Easter Bunny’s visit.

Mom and dad would hide our Easter baskets and my brothers and I would want to search as soon as we arose in the morning. We’d look behind, upon and under the chairs, the couch and various tables and behind curtins for our baskets. The egg hunt would normally be in another room and usually after church service. I can tell you it was difficult to wait for the egg hunt some years, especially if one of us spied an colored egg just waiting to be gathered up and placed in a basket.

We had spent a whole afternoon dying eggs for Easter – the old-fashioned way – by mixing vinegar and hot water with an added few drops of food color. We usually stayed with the four primary colors but from time to time, we mixed the drops to have violet, orange and green eggs. We’d then put a hardboiled egg on a spoon and carefully dip it into a coffee cup filled with colored dye. Of course, one of us kids would invariably knock over a cup as we lifted out an egg to see if the color was dark enough of if we’d need to let it set in the dye mixture a little while longer.

In later years, Mom switched to plastic Easter eggs for egg hunts for my nephews and niece. I was reminded of that on a recent visit to a nephew’s house in Meadeville. His daughter, my great niece, is almost 2 1/2 years old. She got out her basket with plastic eggs and was systematically taking each one out of the basket and putting the two sides of each egg back together. My sister-in-law asked her what she wanted in her Easter eggs since she was taking them home to fill them in preparation for an Easter egg hunt. Vanessa agreed to treats in it but also wanted some treats for Zoie, her grandparents’ dog. She was having a good time feeding treats to Zoie on our recent visit.

I was amazed at how much she was talking. She’s already begun reading stories to her parents and has no trouble communicating with them.

I’m told she’s also becoming a fashionista. Her grandmother says that she has a definite idea of what she likes and what she doesn’t when it comes to clothes. Taking her shopping, her grandmother will show her an outfit and ask her what she thinks, which may be a definite “no” while other items she readily agrees to. Lacy outfits or bows in her hair is not on her list.

I was happy that a Disney baseball cap made for a girl – it had some sparkles to it – is something she does like.

She had her first visit to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., this year. As soon as she spied the castle, she began to make a beeline straight for it. She says she liked the Dumbo ride and she gave Pluto a kiss. At first she didn’t know what to make of the Disney characters, despiting being entralled with all things Mickey before going on the trip. One of the group photos taken shows her parents, grandparents and a couple of the characters. While everyone else is smiling, the look in Vanessa’s eyes has me thinking of the caption – “Help, get me out of here. These people are crazy.” But later photos shows just how much she did enjoy the trip. I think the change from the cartoons she watched on television to the live characters at Disney World had her a little off balance at first.

We went to the local Cracker Barrel for lunch and when Vanessa came to the table it was with the fact that she loved the tool set she found in the gift shop. Grandpa ended up buying her the tool bench, complete with tools.

Mom would have been very proud of her great granddaughter. And I’m sure she would have told her, as she did me, that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. So a tool bench and tools would have been very okay with her.

While this year the family will not be all together for the holiday, there will be phone calls and text messages wishing all a Happy Easter.

But first there will be church and breakfast with our church family and maybe, just maybe, there may be a hat or gloves showing up Easter morning.

I’m re-publishing a recipe that is perfect for Easter – ham loaf. Enjoy!

HAM LOAF (Extra Special)

For loaf:

2 lb. ground ham

1 lb. ground pork

1 cup bread crumbs or cracker crumbs

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs (beaten)

1/2 green pepper (chopped fine)

1 tsp. onion (chopped fine)

Salt and Pepper

For sauce:

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup vinegar

1/3 cup water

1/2 tsp. mustard

Mix the loaf ingredients together and form into a loaf shape.

Bake in the brown sugar sauce for 1 1/2 hours in a moderate oven. (I’m assuming this may be at 350 degrees)

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By Joy Norwood, Tri-County Sunday Editor. Email: jnorwood@thecourierexpress.com

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