As far back as I can remember, this time of year was truly special. The spiritual and religious holiday was full of promise and expectation. To me in my childhood, it was all about getting new patent-leather Mary Jane shoes, a new dress and possibly a spring coat. Since I was the youngest in the family, I benefited from having siblings who treated me with great love and the holidays were always abundant with goodies.
The preparation for Easter meant a variety of activities at my house. It was a time of fasting, a time of abstinence and a time of reflection. This was mostly for the grown-ups. The house was in spring-cleaning mode. This meant changing curtains, slipcovers and general house cleaning.
All this preparation for Easter, along with the time-tested recipes for the special baking treats in an Italian household. I can almost smell the sweet aroma of the ricotta pie and the pungent pizza rustica, my favorite of all. This pie, I realized when I began to make it years later in my own home, would cost a week’s salary to put together. It consisted of ricotta, mozzarella, salami, prosciutto, eggs and other cheeses as desired. This was among the other baked goods to fill our table at Easter.
The coloring of eggs was a ritual that was carried on when I raised my children. Easter morning, our house was full of wonderful smells that permeated throughout. I usually bolted out of bed and went downstairs to the living room where our piano stood and held an array of baskets filled with the most wonderful things. There were chocolate bunnies, cream-filled eggs, nut-covered eggs and marshmallow Peeps. Stuffed animals also could be found sitting atop the piano. I surely benefited from the number of siblings and aunts and uncles who saw to it that our piano was completely covered with treats.
As a child, I enjoyed all the festivities and especially the new clothes. I would dress up in my new clothes Easter morning and go to the children’s mass at church. On my way home, I would visit my Uncle Carmen, who was an invalid. He waited for me to show him my new outfit every year until the very end. I was obliged to visit all the shut-ins on the block and wish them a happy Easter. My new purse that I carried always was full of coins deposited by friends, neighbors and relatives as I made my rounds on that day.
These memories carried me through all the years of growing into womanhood. I tried to bring these rituals to my own children.
Today, as the season has just passed, I am in a more reflective mood. The emphasis is no longer on the goodies perched on the piano and the new clothes. I appreciate the past but realize the present and the significance of the season in a deeper and more spiritual manner. I am truly grateful for the abundance of grace and love that was bestowed upon me in my time.
Linda Alessi is a Lebanon Democrat contributing columnist who writes about life in the golden years.