When it came to Easter Sunday morning at our house, General Eisenhower himself couldn’t have done a better job at strategic planning in advance of the Normandy invasion than my Mom did in getting us ready for church. It was no small feat, let me tell you. After all, she had not one, not two, but three little girls to attire, and that included white cotton panties, stiff petticoats, dresses with tiny buttons and sashes, new white gloves, lace-trimmed socks, white patent shoes, and small beaded purses containing handkerchiefs and Sunday school offering money. Then she had to adorn three heads of hair (two black, curly, cooperative ones, and one brown, silky-straight obstinate one) with requisite clips and ribbons, and flower-covered Easter bonnets. I’d like to see Ike pull that one off! And she did all this in the process of getting ready herself. But that wasn’t all she had to do. Before we got into the car there was one more item of business. We had to pose for the Easter Sunday morning photograph – an annual little ritual that required us to line up outside (presumably to insure squinting into the sunshine) for the sole purpose of providing a permanent record of us decked out in our finery.
I have them all, you know – every single Easter photo that my Daddy took from 1955 all the way to 1969. If I stack them all up and flip them like those simple line drawings that dance across the bottom of a page, I can literally watch myself grow up before my very eyes. The migration from frilly little-girl dresses to pleated skirts to a-bit-too-short skirts; from pigtails to pageboys to my bizarre "Barbara Feldon” coif; from lacy white socks to no socks to silk stockings; from baby teeth to no front teeth to braces to a finished smile, my entire childhood can be charted by that once a year event.
Not surprisingly, when I became a Mom I kept the tradition alive with my own children. My husband winced when I put white gloves on our four-year-old daughter, insisting that such an antiquated accessory had long gone the way of the corset and bustle. In my heart I knew he was right, and she didn’t wear them again after that, but believe me, retiring them from the ensemble was every bit as painful for me as retiring the Britannia must have been for Queen Elizabeth. Those gloves were an integral part of my heritage, and it was hard to let them go.
Fast-forward to the present. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. I am quite grown up now and so is my little girl. In fact, she has children of her own, including a beautiful little daughter who will no doubt don a frilly frock (but alas, no gloves) and have her picture made in the morning. As for myself, when I get dressed for church, sadly I will not be wearing white gloves either. For that matter I won’t be wearing the stiff petticoat, the lacy socks, the ruffled dress, the hair ribbons or the flower-covered bonnet. Even more striking, my husband and I will proceed directly from our door to the car without ever stopping to take a photograph. Something just doesn’t seem right about that.
But despite the conspicuous absence of the fashion-oriented rituals that defined Easter Sunday all those years, there is something that will still be very, very special about the occasion. Tomorrow morning I will go to church in my regular old dress and no stockings (this is Miami, after all!) and there I will lift my voice in praise because it is Easter! Christ my Savior has triumphed over the grave, and what's even more remarkable is that He did it for me.
"I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10) It will be a glorious day, regardless of what I am wearing. Why? Because He is risen. He is risen INDEED!