Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - April 17, 2003

Easter bonnets, baskets and bunnies

"In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade."

Whenever I think of Easter, that song begins playing in my head. I don't know whether it's because I saw the film of the same name when I was a kid or whether it's because my husband sings it every year about this time. The music and lyrics were written by Irving Berlin for the 1948 film, starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. People from my generation and earlier ones probably know many of the words:

"I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter Parade."

Although I've seen Easter bonnets in stores, I can't say I remember seeing anyone - young or old - wearing hats much today. Women in my grandmother's generation wore hats whenever they went out - pillbox hats, hats with feathers, hats with sequins. Mom wore hats occasionally, too.

When my sister and I were little, Mom dressed us in new frilly dresses for Easter and we had new shoes, purses and hats to match. Little white lace gloves provided the finishing touch. We were cute in our hats, I'm sure, but what I remember is that they seemed scratchy and uncomfortable. In one photo of Gaila and me in our hats, Gaila's face is screwed up as if she's thinking, "Get this off my head NOW!"

Mariya has never cared for frilly things and one year Mom had bought just such an Easter dress for her to wear to church. She was balking and Mom was disappointed. Art took Mariya aside and chatted with her. Suddenly she was quite agreeable about the whole arrangement. After the day was over, Art told me he offered Mariya a dollar if she wore the dress.

Other Easter memories include hunting for baskets filled with shiny green plastic grass and all sorts of candy. The last Easter I remember having an egg hunt as a kid was in 1964. Easter came not long after Grandma Freeland died, and we didn't feel much like celebrating. Still, Mom and Dad made sure we had candy in a basket and a big stuffed pink bunny that my sis and I shared.

Art and I have made our own Easter traditions by having Easter egg hunts that involve the girls finding seven to eight baskets each.

The Easter bunny fills the baskets with chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, small trinkets and hard-boiled eggs that the girls and I have decorated.

But it's not really what's inside the baskets that matter. It's the thrill of the hunt. Art, er, the Easter bunny, spends an hour or more hiding the baskets in such locations as inside the oven, in the middle of clothes in a laundry basket, under chairs, on top of the ceiling fan blades or behind the drapes.

When Katie was only 3 or 4 and Mariya was 9 or 10, they took part in the Easter egg hunt at the Keats church. Mariya went quickly from bush to bush to find as many baskets as possible, but Katie plopped down in the grass as soon as she found one basket and ate all the candy in one sitting.

A couple of years ago, I made an Easter bunny cake baked in two round pans. The bunny's head used one cake. From the other cake, I cut curved pieces from the outside edges to form two ears. What was left made a nice bow tie. Then Art took over the decorating, using white frosting for the base, sprinkling coconut on top and adding thin red licorice for the whiskers and mouth. A jelly bean for the nose and Lifesavers for the eyes completed Mr. Rabbit.

We may not have Easter bonnets like earlier generations, but baskets and bunnies still keep us hopping!

Gaila and I in bonnets. Mom made our red outfits.

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