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A Texas Two Step

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A Texas Two Step

The glories of Easter


The Gazette Staff

In Montreal, where I grew up, the arrival of Easter generally coincided with the departure of winter and the arrival of early spring. Early spring up north is not like the exuberant burst of springtime in the South when the azaleas, dogwood, wisteria and Bridal Wreath explode in a sea of blossoms. Up north, early spring means the snow has largely melted and left behind an ocean of mud, but at least the temperatures are warmer.

Our heavy winter clothes were stored away and lighter weight spring coats and suits were taken from the closet. Montreal was a Roman Catholic city by and large so Easter was widely celebrated. In our Episcopalian household, it was also a festive weekend. For the women and older girls, it meant a new Easter bonnet. I recall my favorite. It was made of soft beige straw, with a big brim, rimmed with beautiful fabric roses in shades of pink and coral. My grandmother purchased it for me and I felt very grown up. I think it probably caused me to pay more attention and behave better in church!

The Communion service was followed by an egg hunt and the Easter feast. My mother tinted hard-boiled eggs and hid them around our yard. When we turned the real eggs in, we received a small basket of Easter chocolates.

For the big dinner, my mother always purchased a wonderful ham. It was not the average grocery store ham ones finds today, but a real old-fashioned ham. French Canadian farmers raised their pigs on real food scraps and air-cured their hams for a lengthy period. My mother would cover the ham in brown sugar, pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries and bake it long enough to warm it up. The taste was sensational.

It was accompanied by a huge dish of creamy scalloped potatoes and various string vegetables. The dessert was always a glorious lemon meringue pie topped with a mountain of toasted meringue, crisp on the surface and suitably frothy inside – a delightful counterpoint to the tart lemon filling.

Our schools did not have a 'spring break.' We were let out on the Thursday preceding Good Friday and returned on the following Tuesday morning. Our academic year was lengthy – beginning the day after Labor Day and ending around the 20

th of June following final exams. Christmas break totaled about eleven days and outside of Easter and a brief break at Thanksgiving, there were few other holidays. But the Easter holiday always seemed special, because it heralded the end of the long dark winter and the beginning of Canada's brief three to four-month stretch of warm weather.

Our lives were governed by the comforting rhythms and routines of established traditions. I often wonder if many children today can find the same comfort in their own lives or if the concept of family life has fallen by the wayside like so many other values.