The Easter Photograph
Somewhere in the recesses of our saved memorabilia, placed, most likely, in a plastic tote that is stored alongside its inanimate brethren in our crawl-space attic, is a picture of my mother and I attired in our finest Easter vestments. It was taken a very long time ago on a Kodak Brownie, a black-and-white photograph of me, decked out in shirt, tie, and a three-piece Zoot suit, topped by an over-sized fedora. I am towered over by my mother, beautifully adorned in her Easter best, sporting a stylish lady’s hat of the time called a Fascinator. Mom is looking down into the viewfinder of her own Brownie camera that she is holding at waist level, just above my Fedora. She is taking a picture of the person taking our picture. I have assumed these many years that the unseen recipient and photographer was my dad, but that’s only speculation.
I have no memory of the event but I wish I did. At best, I couldn’t have been more than four or five years of age, and I do recall Easter Sundays early on in my life as being dress-up affairs. Church, followed by a meal in a nice restaurant was usually the order of the day. Easter and Christmas, weddings and funerals, are the only times I recall my parents occupying the hallowed halls of Christian construction. Though they required that I regularly attend church, which I did via the transport of various aunts and uncles, I punched the clock as the sole representative of our clan. On Easter mornings of my youth I woke to an Easter basket that contained a large chocolate rabbit, surrounded by jelly beans, marshmallow chicks and whatever else constituted an Easter staple. There was candy to be had for days on end and it made dentists everywhere very happy!
But the Easter adornments didn’t last that long. Before I reached my teens it was just another day that still required the obligatory exchange of confectionary-stuffed baskets and various holiday what-have-yous. My parents grew tired of the family machinations and I drifted into the world of friends and girlfriends with whom to share the vicissitudes of the day with. Eventually, my own children came along and the renewed energy of hiding eggs, and baskets, and new Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes resumed with a fury. The early morning glee of children with their own personal armada of stomach-aching, teeth-destroying candy, followed by a visit to the grandparents for more egg searching and even more sweets became the norm until, that too, fell by the wayside.
In my parents later years, when we shared a two-family house with them, Easter was again “de rigueur”. A card, a small box of candy, sit for a few moments and recollect all the Easters of years past. Remembering church with all the now deceased relatives, recalling the sereneness of Easter Sunday when it was truly a holy holiday and the stores were closed and the only vehicles on the road were those carrying families, adorned in their Sunday best and on their way to church or a fine restaurant, or a visit to relatives.
With time’s unmerciful continuance, that was then. Now my parents are gone our children have children of their own and they will resume the time-honored traditons that their mother and I taught them. The way we were taught. They’ll hide their colored hard-boiled eggs, present their offspring with plastic-wrapped Easter baskets, but church won’t happen. That ritual fell off the beaten path quite a number of years ago and its mantel was never resumed.
I need to find that Easter photograph and present it to my children as an offering of pictorial lineage: a visual display of the way traditions change but remain the same. Me and mom in our Sunday best, about to join my aunts and uncles, cousins and friends in the hallowed halls, singing aloud from the Hymnal about the holiness of the season. Hallelujah…but I sure with I could remember the moment that photograph was taken. Happy Easter.
RjCook is the author of Dream Lover and Other Tales & The Road Behind Me (The Lie of Hannah) author.to/rjcook