Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Perspectives

While opening china cabinet drawers to see if the Easter Bunny left him an egg amongst my napkins, candle snuffer and cake knife, Clay wonders if the Easter Bunny would hide something inside our furniture. We tell him no.

Me: "Because it's an invasion of privacy"
Mike: "Because the Easter Bunny has paws and can't open the drawers".

Drew, meanwhile, has abandoned the hunt, preferring the easy prey of marshmallow Peeps. The boys' baskets were light on candy this year since we knew the Easter Bunny (or E.B. as we know him) would bring them lots of jelly bean filled eggs. And Baba & Gigi and various relatives will probably ply them with sweets. Instead there were Dr. Seuss books, activity pads, some gardening tools and a little basil pot, bubbles and Bakugan. Basically, whatever I could pick up from the Target dollar bins, plus one toy. Later there will be dinner with Baba & Gigi, Uncle Nick and Aunt Marilyn, Nikia, Ryan, Nicholas, with loads of kielbasa, Ukrainian cheese, ham, deviled eggs, hreen (horseradish and beets) and Paska (Easter Bread), that the boys will turn their noses up to... in favor of marshmallow Peeps.

When I was growing up, Easter was a Sunday where you had to get up early to go to a sunrise service, and were rewarded with a stunning basket of treats. Then we went to grandma's for dinner. But we usually went to dinner there every Sunday. For Mike, Easter was a solemn occasion marked by fasting, basket blessing, church services and then finally the joyous day when you could dig into all of the stuff his mom and baba had been working so hard on for a week. Today, we dig into the kielbasa as soon as the basket is blessed. Baba reminds us that HER mother would have had a fit to see it. But she cuts us another slice.

For my mother-in-law, Easter was an EVENT. The basket was not touched until after Easter morning mass. She told me yesterday that her father and uncle would build a tomb for their church where a shroud was placed on Good Friday, after it had been carried outside and around the church three times. (Not to be outdone by the Ukrainians, the Italian Church in her neighborhood had a special crucifix where during the Good Friday mass the priest would remove nails from, and one by one the arms and legs of Jesus would fall off the cross.) On Holy Saturday, baskets were blessed and before evening mass, the shroud was removed from the tomb and was carried outside around the church three times again before returned to the altar so that it would be out of the tomb by Sunday morning. And on Easter Sunday, the most joyous day of the year for them, the church bells were open for anyone and everyone to ring. Parishioners shouted 'Christos Voskres!' (Christ is Risen!) over and over. For Baba as a girl, she didn't have to look far for Easter imagery.

Last Saturday we attended Palm Sunday mass with Baba & Gigi. Morning mass is hard for Gigi now, so they go in the evening. The service is Byzantine and beautiful, although my mother-in-law knows that I could do without the incense and especially holy oil... too fragrant for me. "Sorry Nance", she whispered as we go up for the blessing "... there's 'goop' today." We receive palms and pussy willows... a Ukrainian tradition. Ukraine's climate isn't compatible to palms... and so worshippers received pussy willow branches in the Old Country. We bring our branches home and stick them in water. With any luck, they'll root and we can plant them in our yard. Last night was Holy Saturday services, where the Plaschenytsia (Ukrainian Holy Shroud) is removed and walked around the church three times. I stayed home with Drew because we knew a two hour service would be too much for him. But as the crew came home, with the Sheleheda family tradition of double cheese pizza, I could smell the incense in Clay's hair.