Easter was Daddy’s favorite holiday. It was always a special family time for just the three of us. Daddy enjoyed the other holidays, especially Thanksgiving, but we always had lots of relatives about and it got pretty noisy and crowded.
Daddy was a quiet, rather solitary man who enjoyed the simple things of life and valued peace. Easter was the one day a year when we celebrated on our own and spent time together. It was also the one day a year that we didn’t go to church. While most people only darken the church doors on Easter, or Christmas we chose to celebrate Christ’s resurrection in a different way.
The day before, Mom would cook a big pot roast, boil potatoes whole in their ‘jackets’, and make macaroni salad and deviled eggs. Sunday morning we were up early getting chores out of the way and packing up a picnic basket with roast beef sandwiches, dill pickles, whole potatoes (cold from the fridge), and containers of salad and eggs. There was a big jug of sweet tea, and a thermos of ice water to wash everything down and peeps for desert.
We would leave the house around 9:00 am and strike a well worn trail through the woods below where we live now. For two miles or so we would meander along the trail taking our time and enjoying the woods. We looked for squirrels, birds, wildlife tracks, and Mom might mark a place with wild flowers that she would dig up on the way home to transplant into her yard.
We would stop by the creek for a cold drink, and Mom would often sing hymns as we followed Daddy through the cool, peaceful woods. Finally, after about an hour long hike, we would end up at a cave in the side of a hill. We called this place the Sand Hollar because the ground was heavy in sandy soil and there were chunks of sandstone about.
I was never allowed to explore very far inside, but the entrance was big enough to make a small child feel like I was in a cavern. Actually, the cave was rather small. My Daddy was 5ft 10in and he couldn’t stand up in it. But it had some large rocks inside and we would sit on them and enjoy our picnic. Then Mom would bring out the bible and read the part where the women came and found the tomb empty and Christ appeared to Mary. Sitting in that cave listening to those words made it all seem even more real to me.
Mom always brought an old quilt, so while I played in and around the cave entrance, Mom and Dad would relax and enjoy the solitude of the woods. Daddy would lay back and smoke his pipe and look up at the trees and point out different birds to Mom. Mom would sit beside him and read the bible, or work on some crochet she had brought along.
Finally, it would be time to pack up and head home. The trip back always seemed to go so much quicker. Before I knew it, we would be home and the magic of the day would be just a memory. And I would be anticipating next year’s pilgrimage.
This year, our Easter was a bit reminiscent of those long ago Sundays. Greg has started work on a remodel project, so he stayed home from church to work. I went to teach Sunday School as usual, then came home instead of staying for the pot luck. In the afternoon, I put a leg of lamb into the oven rubbed with garlic and fennel, deviled eggs, and steamed asparagus. When Greg finally quit for the evening around 8:00 pm I had everything ready. We ate on the back porch by candle light, and gave thanks for all our own food. Our own lamb, asparagus fresh from the garden, and Hollandaise sauce homemade with our own eggs (thank you, Julia Child). And of course we had peeps and Cadbury eggs for desert.
We sat and ate and enjoyed the peace. We watched the birds come to the feeder as well as the squirrels, and laughed at the chickens who couldn’t decide which roost to take for the night. As darkness came, we listened to the sounds of the night and remembered the blessings we have been given. And I thought about Daddy and how much he would have enjoyed this Easter evening. Just quiet, solitude, and time together. A perfect ending to a blessed day.