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April 1, 2018

I felt deeply happy at Easter.

The decade between being left to myself and taken to Buffalo it was, for a while, one time that I felt we had a family.

The gluttony played a part. The Make Up Call Holidays of all dysfunctional families meant almost unlimited candy and “stuff” – meaning over the years, a skateboard (really nice), a book, and a toy or two. I was always asleep when the booty was left at the side of my bed, and I never believed the wildly secular imposition of some ethereal and omnipotent rabbit, but was, nonetheless thrilled to have my avarice abundantly rewarded.

But more, the ritual of everyone getting on the dry-cleaned clothing was a focused effort after an hour or more of bed bound joy. I now realize I only had my sister in this effort for a few years until she took her Volkswagen Bug to Los Angeles in the early ‘60’s, and my brother left for college the year before I joined him in Buffalo, where the ritual never happened again.

But in the late 1960’s, before the Nixon Administration, we giggled, scrambled and toddled our way to St. Barnabas Church. By the end of this decade it was one of the few times my father went to church. He had to fully take on the role of Suburban Dad, versus NYC Lawyer.

But that morning, everyone, everywhere was immaculate, coifed and dressed, filling the church to bursting, including zillions of cars and kids.

It was a Rock Concert of Whitelandia in Mid-Century,

The social joy was a huge counterweight to the reality of the looming Monday, but, after church (and more, if not all the rest, of the candy) we drove to Aunt Fanny’s apartment in White Plains for a fully grey leg of lamb, complemented by very bright green mint jelly.

Aunt Fanny was my father’s father’s third wife. Fairly full-bodied, fully grey, and be-speckled, she seemed both ancient and from a very different shore. Then after full gobbling consumption, including one year “Cresent Rolls”  (Baked! Amid the frozen vegetables and instant mashed potatoes) to watch “Barabus” or “The Greatest Story Ever Told” or “Ben Hur”, approaching comatose with layers of food filling our bellies and the room filled with blue smoke catching the glow of the gray tube set to WABC.

The second Service of Easter Dinner must have been arduous for a set of parents ever in the drinking cycle. The forced overcoming of the night before, the hard work of herding freshly caressed kids must have been even more difficult when capped with Aunt Fanny’s table and conversation.

I never really enjoyed Christmas. It was a huge effort, with endless friction, fighting and disappointment. The extreme greed, the dead fear of a fully drunken father in high dungeon, the insanity of the tree creation was, often, terrifying – made worse once my elder siblings returned to visit, often in a defensive crouch.

But Easter was brief, limited, with all the consumption circumscribed to a tight window, then the loagy glut and collapse in the protecting presence of Aunt Fanny, who suppressed all rage from my sodden Dad, simply by conveying the presence of his own passed dad. I now know how fresh that was, as he died the year I was born.

There was virtually no religious presence beyond the Easter Service in our lives that day. The idea of all the layereing of a Triduum and it’s flourishes and appurtenences was so over-the-top for we of the Low Episcopal World that the two hours of Ressurection was more than enough, thank you.

Now I feel it differently, despite my completely Low values, which remain.

The Grace that saved me was there for a few hours, for everyone, one day a year. The gifts of unmerited love, so impossible in our family, were fully present in everyone on those 10 Sundays at Mid-Century.

I have no idea what our children will remember of their Easter’s, they are still processing in their ‘20’s. They both sang, hard, those growing-up Sunday’s. It was a show. Which many loved and still love dearly.

It was a show back then too. Now in black and white, seen through the hazy blue smoke of over 50 years. At least this is here, now,.

And Grace is here, and was there then, too.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. mary zahl permalink
    April 1, 2018 8:34 am

    Love this, Duo! Happy Easter to you and Liz, Mary

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. April 3, 2021 8:35 am

    I remember the Easter egg hunts in the snow. The drunk uncles around my Babci’s table. The Ham. The Perogies. The mashed potatoes. The asparagus. And the polkas coming in on the radio from Chick-o Pee, Mass a chusets! Thank you for the memories of Easters, past. Next year, on Temple Street.

  3. Duo permalink
    April 3, 2021 9:38 am

    25 min tomorrow: NO SINGING

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