Our plans for this weekend, which was to be spent with family in Washington DC, have been thwarted by water damage to our home discovered this week. With a quiet holiday in the offing, I've been reflecting on two recent Easters I spent in South Africa visiting family. Prior to those visits, it had been many years since I had been "home" for Easter.
To partake of Easter traditions and tastes from my past after decades abroad was an eye-opening experience. After all the time that I've lived in the USA, I was reminded how simple my life was growing up; how uncomplicated holidays were and still are over there.
These years over here, I have wholeheartedly embraced my American life. It was a big deal to arrive as an impressionable young woman and to experience holidays with all the stops pulled out. Everything was new and enticing with extravagant traditions and exciting rituals.
Yet, growing up for me, there were fewer traditions. I never dyed eggs, much less hunted for them. I never had an Easter basket brimming with green cellophane grass, frivolous wind-up toys, stuffed bunnies and plastic eggs filled with chocolates. I never posed for photos with neighbourhood fathers dressed as "the Easter bunny". I never placed white lilies under a cross. I never consumed a sugary breakfast in fancy finery before rushing to church with all the other harried families and then home to lavish dinners.
This is what I remember of Easter. Hot cross buns served on Good Friday. On Sunday we attended a chilly autumn sunrise service and returned home to prepare for a special, but not lavish, lunch with extended family. The most exciting part was the marshmallow egg or hollow bunny on each placemat. That was it.
I never felt deprived.
Yet I raised my children in the American way and I exposed them to all the Easter rituals because it's what everyone does here. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably do the same thing, with likely less chocolate!
On my last Easter home in Cape Town I experienced something amazing. Heading over Kloofnek to have lunch in the city, we literally drove beside the most magnificent rainbow I have ever seen. We stopped in the windy drizzle to gawk and take photographs. Its beginning and its end seemed within reach while the stormy Atlantic surged in the background. It was a rare sighting: Easter + rainbow, symbols of new life and promise in one.
Now, as we spend a quiet weekend in our home which is humming with fans and a dehumidifier to dry up the water damage, we have no plans to eat a big meal and no Easter bunny decorations grace the tables, I'm reminded of my beginnings and I'm liking the simplicity.