“What’s that smell?”


‘There’s something rotten in the State of Illinois’

It rained this Easter. Which wasn’t really a problem, not for me anyway, since I don’t have any little kids to take on an Easter Egg Hunt. (More’s the pity.)

But I remember very well, being the Oldest Kid and all, what happened one time when it rained on our, er, Easter Parade.

But first, a word about Easter.

My family was Lutheran. Which is sort of like being Catholic, but stripped-down and rather basic — kind of like the black-wall tire of religions, or like being the Catholic B-Team. We were jealous of our cousins who were Catholic and enjoyed the full-on religious package; they got to have First Communion and wear fancy dresses and patent leather mary janes and hats with (gasp) veils and get sprinkled with Holy Water. They even got to kneel. (When you’re seven, you think kneeling is incredibly cool.)

I remember that purse. I loved that purse; I distinctly remember putting my collection envelope in there — and (gasp) am I wearing a hat?

But even we Lutherans got to go all out for Easter, with new clothes and everything. My Mom usually made the more spectacular outfits. I’m pretty sure she made the dress I’m wearing in the picture at the top of this post. I know she made my brothers’ little suits.

The Child scores Big with her Easter Basket. No, I didn’t make her dress. But yes, I knitted that sweater

And of course we went to Easter Services. I remember that even we Lutherans had some pretty good hymns on Easter. Big loud joyful ones you could really belt. (“Christ the Lord is risen to-daaaay…ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhh-lay-yay-ooo-ooo-ya!”) As opposed to our usual minor-key dirges with nine zillion verses droned dutifully through on regular Sunday-Go-To-Meetin’ occasions. (I found out much later, after I married The Dude, that Methodists have the Best Easter Hymns Of All Time. Every Easter for years The Child and I would go to services with Aunt Eleanor and sing our little lungs out in her Methodist Church — continuing to sing on the drive home, belting away with the sunroof wide open.)

But the best part of Easter (well, maybe after the Easter Basket) was the Easter Egg Hunt. A word about Easter Baskets. If I’d showed up at my mother’s house for Easter this year (or any year), I’d have found an Easter Basket by the side of my bed on Easter morning, big honkin’ chocolate bunny and all. That’s just how my mom rolls, Easter-wise.

As the Oldest Kid, I don’t remember hunting for the eggs as much as I remember decorating — and hiding them. We decorated eggs by dying hard-boiled eggs with food coloring. I mention this because I don’t think people do this that much anymore in this time of putting-candy-inside-two-plastic-egg-halves. Which I think is fine; I’m not getting that old and crabby.

An early Easter when Mom and I were living at my Gramma P’s. Dad was in Korea, but I got a hat

But there was something to be said about doing the dying thing. You’d learn, say, that if you put an egg in the blue dye first, then the yellow, you’d get a green egg. Or a blue plus a red gave you purple. (You’d also learn that if you put that purple egg into the yellow you’d get a nasty indescribable color. But no worries; Dad would eat it anyway.)

If it was nice out, we Older Kids would hide the eggs outside. Then, after Church, but before Easter dinner (which invariably featured ham — my Mom hating lamb, thinking it smelled like “hot wet sweaters”) we’d direct the hunt for our littler siblings. (“You’re getting warm…you’re getting cold…now you’re warm again…hot…you’re boiling hot!”) They’d find the egg, put it into their now-emptied-of-chocolate-treats baskets — and beam.

Another shot of my brothers in their cute little Mom-sewn Easter suits. Because why not?

But did we eat those Easter Eggs? No way. It’s not that we didn’t like hard-boiled eggs. (Well, actually, we didn’t like them much.) It was more that, when you peel a home-dyed egg, the whites tend to be the same color as the shell. And, while we weren’t inordinately picky children, eating a purple egg just didn’t, well, appeal. So we’d feed the eggs to Dad. He’d be lying on the couch watching golf on TV, waiting for us to get done with the hunt so he could eat his ham, when he’d whip off that shell in one practiced move and pop that whole egg, purple parts and all, into his mouth. 

And if it rained on Easter Sunday? No problemo. We just moved the Hunt indoors. Our house, being a rather large and messy one (there were seven people living there, remember) had plenty of good hiding places. Perhaps too good. I distinctly recall one memorable rainy Easter when the hunt had been particularly enjoyable. Many eggs hidden; many eggs found — and our Dad almost too stuffed with Hunt Bounty to do justice to his Easter Ham.

But, for weeks afterward, we’d walk into the living room and go “What’s that smell?” (In a house with a Dad and three Brothers, my Mom and Sister and I had our suspicions.) But eventually, as the smell got worse and worse (“Gosh, it smells just like rotten eggs in here!”) we found the problem: a gaily colored, highly scented, weeks-old Easter egg, hidden just a bit too well under one of the couch cushions. Needless to say, even Dad wouldn’t eat that one.

Here’s hoping you had a highly-enjoyable and non-stinky Easter. See you next week, even if it rains.

An early Easter with The Child. This was in the Gerard Drive house — so small that her bed and the piano were in the same room. Good thing we did’t lose any eggs in there

New York City. April 2019

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14 thoughts on ““What’s that smell?”

  1. Margaret (Peggy) Henry

    I love your stories!!! I think you all had more fun than our family. We ended up with 5 in our family plus Mom and Dad, but I’m not aware that any of my 5 write stories. I remember when I first met you. I think you were about 5 or 6 yrs old. You spent most of our first meeting asking me questions. All of which, you already knew the answers to. I turned out to not be very smart. I didn’t know most of the answers. Any way, if I had know about your stories, I would have started reading them many years ago! The only story I wished I could write was about our parrot. I always figured that they would make great stories for the young crowd. He was an African grey and always did unbelievable stunts. He would always say something that no one expected.
    Someday, I’ll tell you a few of those. Love to you and yours, Aunt Peggy

    • Oh my, Dear Aunt Peggy! I’m so glad that you are enjoying my family stories. There are so many of them! My daughter, Samantha, is the one who encouraged me to write them down, which I started doing about five years ago. (If you’d like to “catch up”, just click on the “Family Nonsense” tab and you’ll find a whole batch to read.) Thank you for telling me your story about me and all the questions. I doubt very much that you “turned out to be not very smart”. As for my first memory of you, I recall being struck by your beauty and your, well, glamour! You should write your parrot story — any story — I’ll be your first reader. Love, your niece.

  2. Smelled like hot wet sweaters, that statement made me shake with laughter. Your singing narative had me singing aloud; much to the distgust of the husband. This Easter we had a heat wave ; many others were celebrated with chapped lips and chillblanes when I was a kid. I live your whacky writes. You make me remember moments I thought I had long ago forgot. Keep them coming.??

  3. JoAnn Sugg

    Our mommas were so talented! Mom created dresses every Easter and Christmas. Same dress but each girl had a different color. We literally wore the same dress every Sunday from Easter to Christmas. And as far as the music, nothing better than an Easter hymn-even today!

  4. Ha! Love the memories–and the hats! I was AMAZED to see not one hat–even on the little girls–in church this year! When I lived in Virginia, there were always hats! Really, Easter is the only time I wish I had little girls instead of boys (same old boring navy blazers) to dress them in frills and hats. We did decorate hard boiled eggs this year–some tie-dyed box thing, and they turned out great. Two of us eat them; two don’t like eggs any way. Well, and I have to eat all the yolks, because no one else likes them but me. My cholesterol is probably through the roof right now! Our Easter weather was perfect; as a kid in OH, we had snow plenty of Easters, so it always feels like a real treat to get sun. Hope you had a wonderful holiday! And, I’m relishing the fact that a little girl used to be jealous of Catholics kneeling–that’s so precious!

    • No HATS?!? Now THAT’s a sin! Easter was the only time we Catholic B-Teamers got to wear them. And I know just what you mean about dressing little girls for Easter — as you can see by the photos, I loved to doll up The Child! I love that you and your kids dye eggs the good old fashioned way; it was such fun. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. For one thing, you reminded me that we often had snow on Easter. I’d almost forgotten that chilly little detail. Hope you had fun — and thanks again! xoxo

    • Thank you, Gemma! As for the hidden eggs, I hope there aren’t any too. (tho I’m sure we would have sniffed them out by now) And yes, my Mom was (and is) pretty darned talented xoxo

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