We just had a yummy Easter dinner. My friend Lydia is moving back to the States and she gave us a few boxes full of foodstuff, including a complete Thanksgiving dinner. Cranberry sauce, stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, gravy. Even little pumpkin pie thingies. I was telling Sara about that, and how everything expires this May so we were planning a random little Thanksgiving dinner sometime in May. And then Sara said two words: Easter dinner. Oh, yeah.
So we broke out Lydia's food storage this evening and made a scrumptious Easter/Thanksgiving dinner. Mostly Andrew did it because Rachel was in a cuddly mood and it's hard to get anything done when I have to hold her. He did a great job.
Also today we made cute little Easter nests as part of our primary lesson. Phyllis made no-bake cookies and shaped them into nests. I made sugar cookies in the shape of eggs and chicks. Michele dyed coconut green for grass and brought some jelly beans with her. And then we had the kids assemble and eat their Easter nests. They really enjoyed it! Our lesson before our activity was similar to this one. Phyllis filled eggs with items relating to part of the Easter story and the kids guessed about the reason she chose that item and then we read a scripture about it. It was really fun.
I've been thinking about Easter all day and have come up with a few Easter memories.
My earliest Easter memory is one of two stories. I'm not really sure which one happened first...
Once when we were living in Burnaby, before I started school, my sisters woke me up on Easter morning. I was very excited to go and find my basket until they told me that I had slept right through Easter and then I was in tears. I was kind of a sensitive child. To make it better they helped me find my Easter basket, which was hidden in a little side table with doors (that my parents still have) among some records (like vinyl ones that you listen to). All three of the girls (me and my two older sisters) got Barbie dolls in our Easter baskets, not grown up dolls, but children dolls. My sisters played Barbies with me to help me feel better (because I still hadn't recovered from the shock of thinking I had slept through Easter even after finding my basket).
I have no recollection of receiving any candy.
Also when we were living in British Columbia, and I think when we were still living in Burnaby, we went to my Aunt Tami's house in Bellevue, Washington. I always liked going down to the Seattle area because we usually got to go to visit the temple grounds for a little bit, and I liked that. Anyway, we had gone down to her house sometime around Easter, perhaps even for Easter dinner, and I was a stress-case yet again.
My sisters had told me that the Easter Bunny might not come because we weren't going to be at our house on Easter, ergo he might not be able to find us. Luckily the Easter Bunny did find us and he left for me that year a little brown stuffed bunny. It was so small it fit in my hand. It had a pink nose and a yellow ribbon. I still have the bunny, although the ribbon has long since gone missing.
Again, I have no recollection of recieving any candy. Either I didn't care about candy or my siblings didn't want me to get hyper and confiscated it all. I'm not sure in what order those stories happened or if the details are even all correct. I was under the age of four both times, so I think I deserve a break.
Another one of my favorite Easters was when my little sister Josie was born. She was born on April 7, 1994--just a few days after Easter. She was a beautiful Easter gift! I'd been waiting for a little sister for so long!
Sometimes we'd do Easter-themed birthday parties for her. That's what you get when you're born close to a holiday!
My memories of my later childhood Easters all kind of blend together. I remember having to wait out in the van after church while Mom and Dad went inside to "check" if the Easter Bunny had come. He usually came while we were at church.
I remember dying eggs every year and always having an Easter egg hunt of sorts.
Once when we were having an Easter egg hunt, my brother David hid an egg in a hole in the wall at the top of the stairs (in our PoCo house) that he had either punched in or kicked in or rammed in with a hockey stick some weeks earlier. I don't remember how the hole got there, but I remember that he hid an egg by balancing it it in the hole.
Other popular spots were the central-vac outlets, the mantel, the bookshelf, on top of the curtain rods. We usually had to have several rounds of egg hunts so that we could all take turns hiding and finding the eggs. We weren't allowed to eat any candy from the egg hunt until everyone had taken a turn.
Of course Easter would be followed by days and days of egg salad sandwiches.
When we lived in Alberta we'd sometime spend the Easter weekend at my Grandma and Grandpa Conrad's house. I remember one time that my grandma was boiling water to make the eggs and it was taking forever so she sent us all to the park to play. She said it would take 12 minutes to make the eggs, but I have a feeling they let us play at the park for a lot longer than that because I remember wondering for a long time when they were going to come and get us to dye the eggs.
Later, my grandma brought out some cotton balls, glue, construction paper, egg cartons, and foam packing pieces. I created a whole carton full of little cotton ball/foam animals: chicks and lambs and rabbits. We left it there when we went home.
In subsequent Easters we'd see little cotton ball creations decorating grandma's house during Easter.
My mom recently went through a box of my grandma's stuff. Inside was a little paper lunch sac with "Nancy" written on the outside. It was full of my cotton ball creatures. My grandma kept everything!
I believe that when we lived in High River was when we started the tradition of making Easter Story Cookies. They're mostly just merengue cookies, which no one in my family really likes, but it's a fun activity and we could handle eating merengue cookies once a year. They only make one batch so it's not like we were eating them all day. We just would bite into them to see that they were hollow. I believe my mom's friend Kathy Loos sent her the recipe in an email or something.
When I was 12 I gave a talk in sacrament meeting about Easter. That was the first time I really stopped to study the Easter story. I still have my talk, though not with me right now. It would be interesting to go back and read it sometime.
Also, when we lived in High River, we went down to Utah for an Easter vacation once. In Alberta we get a long vacation around Easter because there are so many Catholics there. I believe we went down for the blessing of one of my nephews--either Matthew or Andrew. I can't remember which one, although I'm thinking it may have been Andrew since we had been in Utah for Matthew's birth around Christmas. I don't see why we'd then drive back down for his blessing. Andrew's birthday is March 1st, so it's very possible that it was his blessing.
Or maybe I'm combining two memories. I don't know. (Okay, for sure I'm combining more than one memory because by the time we went down to see Andrew I think Grandma and Grandpa were already in their new house...hmmmm...)
My Easter memory in Utah, though, is from when my grandma and grandpa Layton were still living in the basement of their old house that they had sold to Uncle Cory. We were all staying on blow-up mattresses around the pool table and we played several rounds of darts because my grandpa had gotten a new dart board recently. I had forgotten my pyjamas and slept in one of my grandpa's t-shirts.
For Easter we each got a big purple cup with bunnies on it (those cups are still in my mom's cupboard although the bunnies have mostly rubbed off by now) and they were filled with jelly belly beans. I love jelly belly beans. (I wish that I had some right now).
That's my first candy memory, really. I mean, we usually got a chocolate bunny (I would usually get a white chocolate bunny), which was fine, but really, if I could just have a big cupful of jelly belly beans every Easter, I'd be happy.
Another big Easter for me was the Easter I spent in Russia. We had taken a trip through the Baltics right before Easter and spent Palm Sunday in...Latvia...I think. If I had my journal with me I could check the details.
Anyway, we visited an orthodox church, which was really quite neat. Instead of using palms, people were waving pussy willows around. And a priest was going around flinging holy (?) water on everyone. We really had no idea what was going on, although it was neat to actually celebrate Palm Sunday.
We were back in Russia the following week, which meant that we still got to celebrate Lent. In Russia they eat a whole lot of pancakes during Lent, which is great because I love Russian pancakes. We had an Easter party at the church on the Saturday before Easter and even ate kulich, which was good. After that we were able to attend the midnight mass at a local hram. We went with all of the missionaries in the district we were in, not that we were missionaries, but they had permission to go and were taking an investegator, so trekked from the church (where we had just had an Easter party) to the nearest Russian Orthodox hram for the festivities there.
It was very helpful to have an investegator with us because he was able to tell us what was going on, what we were supposed to do with the candles, what the girls in white dresses circling around the altar represented, and other traditions. We felt a little bad that we had already eaten kulich that evening since everyone else at the hram had apparently been fasting all day and at midnight people started breaking out kulich and other goodies that you were supposed to wait for Lent to be over to eat. Oops.
My host family also had some kulich for me on Sunday morning and showed me the eggs they had dyed with Alosha while I was at the branch Easter party. They dyed their eggs red with onion skins. It was a very interesting Easter.
Our first Easter as a married couple was lowkey. We had, truthfully, completely forgotten about getting anything for Easter, but it worked out alright in the end because Andrew's parents invited us over for Easter dinner and Karen had some nice Easter baskets made up for us, something she's continued to contribute to in subsequent years.
In 2007, Easter was on Josie's birthday. I was pregnant with Rachel and we weren't really planning on doing much. Josie is the youngest child, though, and no one wanted to dye Easter eggs with her at home so she and my mom came over to our apartment and hung out and we dyed Easter eggs. It was a lot of fun!
Last year was Rachel's first Easter. She went to an Easter egg hunt at her friend Maggie's house and we had the first-ever Heiss Family Easter Egg Smack Down, a tradition we intend to carry on this year.
This year our Easter celebrations have only just begun. Andrew starts spring break on Sunday, which means he doesn't have to go to school for a whole week or something like that, which is awesome. If we had eggs, we probably would have dyed them already so we could do our Easter Egg Smackdown, but we don't have eggs. I used the last one yesterday when Rachel and I made all those sugar cookies for primary. We'll have to go get some tomorrow.