Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday Memories and Easter Ephemera

Today is Good Friday. Growing up as a Catholic, and going to Catholic elementary school, I remember that on Good Friday, school was always let out early. But before school let out, we were required to go to Mass. It was a long Mass due to the fact that the gospel reading always consisted of the entire Passion.  Of course it seemed even longer knowing that after Mass was over, we would be allowed to go home and start our Easter weekend.  I always felt antsy during Mass and since Good Friday Mass was so long and it was usually right before lunch, I sometimes started to feel a little light-headed and faint.  This wasn't helped by the strong aroma of the incense that wafted from the censer that the priest swung back and forth as he walked down the aisle.  My feelings of restlessness and discomfort during Mass made me feel guilty since I was supposed to be concentrating on Christ's suffering and death on the cross.  Yes, the pews were hard and I was hungry, but my sore bottom and hunger pains were nothing compared to the agonies of Christ that I was supposed to be contemplating. What I needed to do was to stop complaining and start thinking about the Stations of the Cross, but as a grade schooler, that wasn't always the easiest thing to do. So, of course, guilt ensued.

The other thing I remember about Good Fridays took place at home.  Since tradition held that Christ died around 3 p.m., when 3 o'clock rolled around, my sister and I often joined my mother in saying the rosary.  It was usually just the three of us, since my dad was still at work and my older brother seemed to always manage to get out of joining us in such things.  

Other than having fish for dinner, the rest of the Easter weekend was pretty low key.  I do remember looking forward to Easter Sundays though. When we were very young, I remember that on Easter mornings we would awake to find that my parents (or was it the Easter Bunny?) had given each of us a new Easter basked filled with a stuffed Easter bunny and some pipe cleaner chicks. If we were really lucky, we would also each get a See's candy chocolate-creme Easter egg.   Later on after Mass, which thankfully was relatively short on Easter, my dad would hide plastic, candy-filled eggs in the backyard for us to hunt. Our big meal of the day, as it was every Sunday, came in the early afternoon, usually around 1 p.m. I think ham was what we had for Easter dinner most years. As I got older, moved away from home and spent more Easter's away from my family, most of what I found special about Easter seemed to fade away. With both my parents now dead, and the rest of my family scattered across the country, any Easter traditions that we shared, are now long in the past.  Now Easter seems to creep up on me by surprise. I'm usually taken unawares by the arrival of Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. And when Good Friday rolls around, it doesn't seem that different than any other Friday. When I think of Easters now, they are tinged with nostalgia and a bit of melancholy. 
Yesterday, I pulled out of my closet a album of postcards that was kept by my Grandma and Grandpa Desjardins.  The album is filled with a mix of scenic cards, portraits, and holiday cards.  The postmark date on many of them, including the Easter postcards that I'm posting here, goes back to 1910 and 1911. So, for your Easter viewing, I hope you enjoy these century old Easter Greetings and may you all have a very Happy Easter.

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