Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter! It's All About the Dresses

I grew up in a Southern Baptist family who was at church every time the doors were open. In a way, I think it was as much about escape from the house as it was about piety, but that is for another tale.

Easter was a very big deal for us girls, the three of us at first and then we two youngest after our sister married. It always meant a new dress, usually something even better than the year before. At this writing, I can remember clearly four dresses that I wore to Easter services. All but one were made by my mother.

In August 1970 our older sister got married. I don't know if I wore my Easter clothes to her wedding (very likely) or if I wore the wedding clothes for the following Easter, but they were one and the same that year. I wore a white blouse with sheer arms, very girly, and pearl buttons up to the neck. I had little white gloves, white bobby socks, and a pink skirt that had an elastic waist and came to just above mid-thigh. On my head, I had a headband that had tiny white flowers on it, delicately shining against my blonde hair. Unfortunately, I was a chubby girl, and the skirt looked pretty bad on me, but I remember that I really loved it. I felt very pretty. I wish I had pictures to show you, but most of them have been lost over the years. I had one photo showing me next to my mother and sister at our older sister's wedding and one picture showing me in the backyard of our home with my little sister, Easter baskets in hand. I can remember those clearly.

A few years later, Mom made a beautiful dress for me for Easter. We went to the fabric department at our favorite store and picked out a pattern and all of the cloth and necessities to make the dress. I loved to pick out buttons. To me, buttons were the accessories of clothing, and for this dress, nothing but pearlized buttons would do. We also picked up some butterfly buttons to sew on as decoration.

When she was done, my mother had created a work of art. The bottom layer of the dress, closest to my skin, was a white polyester shell, stretchy and soft, sleeveless. Layered over that was a similar dress with long sleeves made of a filmy, white material covered in flocked pastel butterflies. It was the most beautiful dress I'd ever seen. It fastened up the back and on the cuffs with the pearlized buttons, and it had the little butterfly buttons sewn on one side of the bodice. I received many compliments on that dress. It was simply beautiful.

Another year, when I was thirteen and had grown several inches taller and had lost twenty pounds, Mom made a long, flowing dress for me that had short, flirty sleeves (I wish I knew what they were called) and a ribbon at the waist. The sweetheart neckline let me show off a beautiful necklace and my long, slender neck. The dress was made from pale yellow material covered in a light, watercolor type print. I wore a wide-brimmed white hat with a matching ribbon around the band. It was elegant and spring-like, all in one.

The last dress I remember was a versatile one that I used several more times, because I had reached my adult height and my weight remained the same for a good long time.

Again, it was a long dress in pale yellow. It had a halter bodice that came demurely up to my neck, ending in a white shirt collar. It was fully-lined with a soft yellow satin and flowed away from my body in an A-line. I used that dress for Easter, a high school dance, and later a stage band concert in which I was the pianist.

I miss having my mother make clothing for me. She was a professional seamstress who always took in little jobs from friends at church: tailoring, repairing, or making new clothing. When I was young and then again when she left my father, she supported us by working in a sewing factory. I regret that I never learned enough from her about sewing, because I would dearly love to be able to make clothes for myself now or alter the things I have which no longer fit. The thought of going to someone else to have this done just seems wrong somehow. Seems like I should be more self-sufficient than that. It is one of the many lost arts in this country. Now it seems like a quaint craft more than a necessity for clothing one's family. Don't you think?

My Easter's now are uneventful. We no longer attend a church, so there is no reason for me to even buy a new Easter dress. The kids are grown, so we don't buy Easter baskets. There is no dyeing or hiding of eggs. No Easter bunny photos at the mall. No sunrise services. Easter has become just another day at our house.

But this morning, my daughter called from the hospital.

"Cadbury creme eggs will be going on sale, " she said.


"Well, usually I stock up on them after Easter, because you can't get them at any other time of the year. They're usually 25 cents each, if that."

"And you want me to go stock up on them for you?" It probably hasn't even occurred to her that she is in the hospital with severe stomach issues, including not being able to keep much food down. "Do you really think that's a good idea?"


"You don't think you'd eat them all in a week? And be sick again?"

"No. I'll make them last me awhile."


I guess I'll be out hunting for eggs after all.

Peace and Happy Easter...D

1 comment:

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

You should color eggs, anyway. Put them on your table for the holiday. And make an Easter basket for hubby. Pastel-colored boxers, and such. Make it fun for the two of you! Go out and get a dress and treat yourselves to an Easter brunch!