Way back in the good old days when our children were young, small children, our house looked like the little old tailor’s shop during the week before Easter. All over the place there were hand-me-down, pass-me-around and brand new clothes with one thing in common – need of alteration.
The oldest boy and the oldest girl usually had brand new outfits that required something shortened or lengthened, while the younger six had the hand-me-downs and pass-me-arounds that sometimes required more serious alteration. Since Easter outfits were only worn to church on Sundays they were seldom worn out.
Among the most memorable of these Easter clothing items was the girl’s church-gliding hat I told you about a few weeks ago. Second to that were two red wool blazers my sister-in-law made by hand when our first two boys were ages 5 and 3.
They looked so cute in those blazers worn with long gray trousers, white shirts and little black bow ties. In fact, all of the boys looked so cute in them when it was their turn.
It was lucky they were church-only outfits because the jackets had to be dry cleaned. That could have been an expensive proposition considering the activities of the boys who wore them.
One year the smallest boy put a colored Easter egg in each pocket before we went to church. That might have been OK, but he managed to fall down and roll over before he got up. The eggs not only cracked, they also broke open. That was a gloppy mess.
Another time it was the bigger boy who enriched the dry cleaner. He loved to talk to people, so after church he enjoyed making the rounds, shaking hands and chatting. We kept trying to be super patient since it was Easter Sunday, and the people seemed to be enjoying our then 5-year-old son.
His brothers and sisters were getting impatient. They wanted to go home and enjoy their Easter treats. “Come on,” I coaxed, “it’s time to go.” That didn’t move him toward the car, so I tried another track. “We need to go home to make sure the dogs didn’t get into your Easter basket,” I suggested.
He smiled up at me and said, “Don’t worry, Mom, I got all the good stuff with me,” as he pulled open his red blazer pockets to reveal a mess of melted chocolate and marshmallow candy.
We have several pictures of a 3-year-old boy stooping down on the floor, grinning into the camera. The aunt who made the jackets wanted a picture of the boys in her handiwork. She brought her camera along Easter Sunday, and every time she would stoop down to snap a photo, the 3 year old would stoop down and smile happily.
One year I made a mistake with the Easter treats. Instead of group-dyed hardboiled eggs I put a brightly colored ball in the toddler’s basket. He thought it was great and enjoyed throwing it on the floor and watching it bounce back.
Unfortunately he lost the ball, so he started grabbing the Easter eggs and hurling them to the floor. They didn’t bounce. They did grind nicely into the carpet as the older ones chased him to get the eggs away from him.
The first year we had a dog, the kids decided the Easter Bunny should leave an Easter basket for him. He loved it, but it set a dangerous precedent. The next year they wanted Easter baskets for the fish in the aquarium. “No baskets for the fish,” I quickly decreed.
As they retreated in defeat, I heard the 4 year old mutter, “Some bunny! Can’t even leave a little candy for those poor baby fish!” The 5 year old agreed, “Yeah, there’s only 23 of them.”
You know, I really did enjoy being the mother of eight children. But I have to tell you, being a grandmother is even better.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate March 23, 2005.