P is for Peter Cottontail
P is for Peter Cottontail. Do you recall the song "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" from your childhood? I remember the bright yellow 78rpm recording of that song that my Dad brought home for us when he purchased the first "Hi-Fi" stereo for our family. I was about five at the time. We must have played it a hundred times in those first few days, memorizing the words so well that they are still stored away in my head!
The Write A Letter Wednesday directive this week was to "write a letter to an imaginary character or friend, or to the person who brought this mythical character to life and made us believe." This letter is in memory of my Mom who made Peter Cottontail and Easter so much fun that it became a tradition we carried on with our own children.
It's Easter weekend and I am missing you...
I miss coloring hard-boiled eggs in cups of dye at the kitchen table, you overlooking our mess and always assuring us our creations were beautiful... even the ugly brown egg my big sister had to make every year by dipping an egg in every cup of dye! Indeed they did look pretty in their basket of green shredded cellophane grass.
I miss digging into the box of holiday decorations in the storage to find our Easter baskets, the same ones we used year after year, and filling them with new "grass". Leaving them out in excitement and the belief that the Easter Bunny would indeed stop by and fill them with candy, chocolate rabbits, small toys and jewelry while we were fast asleep.
Most fun of all was waking up on Easter morning to find a trail of handwritten clues, a set for each of us, that led us clue by clue on a treasure hunt around the house, upstairs and downstairs, until we reached the final clue pointing us to where our Easter basket was hidden. The clues often took the form of silly rhymes that make me smile even now, such as "The bunny backed into the heater and there he burned his little seater" (leading to the next clue to be found taped to the water heater in the basement). Only when my own children were growing up and I spent the nights before Easter carefully thinking up and hand-printing clues for their Easter hunt, did I realize how much work and love you put into them!
Easter morning arrived with we three girls scampering thru the house, squealing as we spotter our next clue, and stopping to help our little sister decipher hers. Cheers of delight, "I found mine - I found mine," soon followed! You always had our baskets done up so beautifully!! I wish I had pictures of them now. Maybe some still exist in the boxes of old photos that my little sister is waiting for me to come and collect.
Breakfast, intermixed with candy and bites of chocolate bunny ears, was soon followed by getting ready for church. You always made sure we each had a lovely new Easter dress, a new pair of spring dress shoes, and a new spring coat to wear. Sometimes there were lace gloves and Easter bonnets as well. I realize how lucky we were compared to what some of the other kids had. Some years when we were small we had matching dresses. I remember the year we had polka-dot ones, and your dress matched ours. How special we felt, how proud we were to look just like Mom!
After church it was off on the long drive (or so it seemed at that age) to one of our relatives houses where we would share a big dinner, men being served first in the German farm tradition, and then quickly change from our dresses into play clothes along with our cousins, so we could spend the afternoon outside at the farm before heading home again at suppertime.
I find myself wondering now if you would have preferred spending more holidays with members of your family instead of dad's, though I'm sure you had little choice in the matter. Was it fun for you, or was it just something to get thru, something expected of you? I remember discussions in the car on the way home about some of the petty remarks and comments made. I think you often felt insecure or left out, and that the other aunts were a bit jealous that dad had done well financially. Life wasn't all roses for you by a landslide, and I know that each of us inherited some of your insecurity and social anxiety.
I know that Easter, all the holidays, were a lot of work for you, I know they were also a labor of love. Not every family remembers birthdays and holidays as special events. It wasn't that a lot of money was spent, Dad would have frowned on that. It was that you took time to do the special things, like the treasure hunt four our baskets, that made us eagerly anticipate the next year, a tradition you continued long after we knew that the Easter Bunny wore a kitchen apron most days, and hand handwriting that looked a lot like yours. :-)
I wonder now, if it pleased you when we grew up and continued the tradition of Easter Basket hunts with our own children, making another generation of happy memories that our kids still talk about, and will likely pass on if/when they have children of their own. My daughter even used to make Easter treasure hunts for her now ex-husband, using a shiny new tackle box or tool box for his basket and filling it with goodies such as fishing lures, golf balls, and gift cards, along with an assortment of candy. He loved it, and even wore the large bunny foot slippers she provided for the hunt! :-)) I'm sure she is remembering that too, a memory now tinged with sadness. I hope that You and Dad are watching over her and maybe pointing some wonderful new guy in her direction. She really needs a bit of Easter joy this season, Mom.
In closing, I just wanted to say thank you now for all the times you made special in our lives, for all the extra efforts you made, above and beyond seeing that we were taken care of... and for all the times I didn't say thank you, and didn't realize how hard you tried. Early tomorrow morning, the Peter Cottontail song will probably be running thru my head as I lay there on my pillow remembering and smiling, and there just might be a chocolate bunny hiding somewhere around the house waiting for John to find it!
Love always and forever,
Your middle child