The Good Old Days: Easter Sunday memories to last a lifetime
Once upon a time, when the Falcone family was alive and well and living in Norwich, we all prepared for the coming of Easter. It was 1964; a glorious time for a child to be alive.
As a Roman Catholic, my family spiritually prepared for Lent by giving up something we enjoyed. As a child, I always tried to give up candy. This was never successful.
To appease my grandparents, I learned to give up something not so difficult to lose.
There were religious services and processions throughout the week leading up to Easter. My Nonna would ask my mother to drive her to Saints Peter and Paul church. We would participate in the Stations of the Cross on top of a beautiful hilltop overlooking the city.
Holy Week began with Palm Sunday, commemorating Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. After church on Palm Sunday, my sister and I would joyfully gather our palms and bring them home. We would take scissors and glue and make miniature crosses for our neighbors, Anna and Gus Lorentz.
We would also give them a small basket of colored eggs resting in green straw.
During this era, mothers were known to buy their children new clothes to wear on Easter Sunday. In church, it was not unusual to see men dressed in suits and ties and women wearing colorful hats and beautiful flowing dresses.
Every year, my grandfather would give me a stark warning. “Even if you don’t go to church all year, you better go on Easter Sunday. The day celebrates the resurrection of Christ who died for our sins.”
It was a time when schools celebrated by having a teacher dress up as the Easter Bunny, and children participated in Easter egg hunts during recess. However, what is most memorable about this time, and many of you will recall, was how the movie “The Wizard of Oz” was shown on television every year right around this time.
The last childhood Easter I remember involved an Easter basket wrapped in pink cellophane. Inside was a large chocolate bunny, a few Peeps, jelly beans, and an envelope that contained a dollar bill.
After breakfast, my family attended Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral. I recall walking up the long sidewalk and saying hello to all the purple crocuses that seemed to wink at me.
Talman Street was only a few minutes away. My grandparents would be hosting Easter dinner.
My father had two brothers, and their wives always brought dishes, even though no one could match the taste of my grandmother’s meatballs. My best memory of the dinner was the homemade bread with colorful blue and yellow Easter eggs baked inside the dough.
The rest of the lazy afternoon was spent with the men going outside to look at someone’s new car while drinking beer and having a smoke. The women stayed inside and cleaned the kitchen, secretly putting shots of Sambuca into their coffee.
In the evening, after we arrived home, I sat on the edge of my bed and looked up at the makeshift cross I had made with my palms. Yes, another Easter had come and gone, and would never come again in this same way.
There is a lesson here, folks: Enjoy your family when you can, for each moment together makes a lifetime memory.
Concetta Falcone-Codding is the author of “The Lonely Nest.” To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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