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Easter Sundays — Present and Past

Easter Sunday, 12th April 2020

These are strange times. Everyone is saying that. Not as often as they say stay safe”, but it is a meme in the air, dogging every conversation.

And Easter Sunday, this year, was a strange day. When we spoke later in the week (in a CNS Teams video call — that’s the only way we meet in these strange times — we realised that both Rob and Jack had spent some of the day, thinking about what the day meant to them, and writing about memories of past Easters. The team call was meant to discuss how we can help people grow stronger not weaker during this crisis: perhaps, for Rob and Jack, writing is one of the things that helps them. This is what they wrote.

Memories of Easter Sunday. Rob writes

Today is Easter Sunday my first one in which there are no eggs at all, either of the chocolate variety or those produced by chickens. I am not totally a vegan, but I am moving by degrees towards it. Even when I was a meat eater, I would go for days without eating meat, but there was rarely a day when I would not go without an egg. The main reason I didn’t proclaim myself a vegan from the beginning of my journey of cuisine change and discovery was the doubt that I could do without eggs. Here I must admit something: when I say I go without eggs, I mean in their natural form, i.e. cooked, boiled, fried, poached, or scrambled etc., etc., etc. I still eat things with eggs in, especially if not exclusively, cakes.

When it comes to the confectionary, chocolate type of egg, believe it or not, (and I know many out there who know me, will chose not to) I have not been over-tempted by chocolate for some time, so, going without that type has not been a difficult chore. Time for another confession, toffees are my Achilles heel.

So, I can say without fear of being stuck down for lying, no eggs will pass my lips this Easter Sunday.

My days seem to be forming into a pandemic lockdown routine, today being no exception. Wake up around 9 am, listen to some music on Alexa for an hour, then get up, come out on to my balcony with my laptop, get some sun and fresh air. Take part in some zoom or team meeting get some virtual human contact and mental stimulation. Then write a couple of poems and/or a diary entry. After that read, listen to a book. About 7pm or 8pm go back into the house, eat dinner, watch some more tv, until around 10.30-11pm, when I’ll o to bed, maybe watch a little more telly then go to sleep. Then wake up and the routine begins again. Who can tell how long this routine will last.

I have reread on Kindle and listened on Audible to A Tale of Two Cities” and Great Expectations” and Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens. Now I am beginning to read, listen to, on the same devices The Crimson Petal and White” by Michel Faber. I will let you know had that plays out, so far so good. Matt Lucas narrated Great Expectations which was highly entertaining.

I wonder how families are coping this Easter Sunday, it must feel strange. Those of a religious persuasion are unable to follow their faith in the usual way. Easter Sunday is a time when families traditionally gather to celebrate family live, that obviously isn’t happening this year because of Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

I know in our bungalow-hood where there would usually be bustling with the noise of children (a short interlude just to inform you my routine has been interrupted by rain, as I scurry back indoors) as they rush around loudly making boy-like screams and Mike cooking up a storm in the kitchen. But today we sit in silence, Mike and Darren sleep on their beds and I continue stoically with my lockdown routine.

This allows me time to daydream, to bring forward to the front of my mind the memories of my childhood family Easter Sundays when like many families we would gather.

Parents, children grandparents, sometimes uncles, aunties and cousins. As a family brought up in the Catholic faith, we would have to go to Easter Sunday service, often in our grandparents’ parish. After which you would go and roll your dyed painted eggs down the Castle mound until they are broken, then, if you must, eat said eggs.

Then back to before mentioned Grandparents’ house to gorge on an Easter Sunday lunch. After overeating on savoury and sweet delights, the adults slumber slouched in front of the unseen television, the children try to entertain themselves silently scared to make the slightest noise, in case, they awaken the sleeping adults. Copious amounts of wine have been drunk during the meal.

Once those slumbering giants resurface into consciousness, more food is offered, no one has need or want of it, but no-ones wants to refuse in can offence is taken by the offer. If they are honest, some dare not refuse.

So, homemade sandwiches, cakes and pastries are brought out and more gorging by all is undertaken, everyone knows that every cake, scone, or crumb left uneaten will be parcelled up and packed into your motor as you drive off home.

Once you can stuff no more into your overfed guts, what remains is taken away to be parcelled up. The bored offspring begin to make noises about wanting away, so everyone collects their things and in order of distance you need to travel to reach home, the various branches of this family tree take their leave, at peace knowing they have done their bit as they must do for another Easter Sunday.

On their way home even if they had room for any more food, they dare not call is for fish and chips, because the family matriarch would have a fit and no-one would ever hear the end of it.

I can still hear what she would screech at such a sacrilegious thought, How could you think of takeaway food when I cook such delicious homemade fare”.

To her the thought that we kids were mentally screaming, Please, please, we will give our souls for a golden crisp piece of chip shop cod”.

This seems a good place to pull my mind back from the nostalgic past of long-gone family fun(?) and return to present times. Before I close todays entry, below I share a poem I penned earlier today: another shorter version of the story of past Easter Sundays.

Childhood Memories

My memories of Easter Sunday’s

Are happy ones

Of family gatherings,

trips to Grandparents parish churches

for Easter Sunday services

Afterwards of family picnics

Of sitting on blankets on riverbanks

Of serene peaceful scenes

Rolling dyed and painted hard boiled eggs

Down hills my parents had carried me up

In caring, gentle, loving arms

Eggs we had lovingly designed

Laying broken and destroyed

At the bottom of the hill

Having to painfully swallow those eggs

Hard as Hell

I have always hated hard boiled eggs

Oh, those childhood memories

Of Easter Sunday’s begone

But will never be forgotten

twenty miles south…

So, as Rob draws the curtain on the end of his day, emotionally if not physically, he re-shelves his childhood memories. Let’s travel the twenty odd miles from the suburbs of a inner city to the sleepy streets of a Worcestershire village. (all roads are quiet this Easter Sunday) Where we find Jack contemplating the same day from his perspective ruminating over his past Easter Sundays.

More notes on Easter Sunday. Jack writes

Easter Sunday 2020. Two days after my birthday. My first in lockdown, which prompted me also to think back over previous Easter Sundays.

My sister Katharine had sent me a card saying, walk cheerfully over the world”.

This is from words written in a different lockdown by Quaker George Fox, in Launceston Prison, 1656. Various charges had been made against him: treason, preaching, and it seems worst of all in the opinion of the judge, not removing his hat and not showing the court sufficient deference. From his cell, George Fox instructed himself and his readers to:

be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your life and conduct may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one;”

I was not surprised by the card. We were not a religious family, but a practical Quaker one. Theology was never discussed. But doing your work, thinking for yourself, refusing to remove your hat before authority before you had decided for yourself whether that authority was legitimate — these things were important.

As a child, I have no memories of Easter. I know we had Easter eggs, but these were eked out, piece by piece over several days. Rationed excitement.

It was only as a teenager, living in Greece, where Easter is more important than Christmas, that I realised its significance both religious and culinary.

In recent years, Easters have been more exciting as grandchildren have joined us on egg hunts in garden and rolling eggs down the local hill.

Today, Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, is silent. Like Rob, the house is without children, the road outside is car-less. We wait for video calls and fret about family working in local hospitals.

But it is also a good day, sunny, gloriously empty. We walk up the same hill. No eggs, but bluebells turning to the dappled light.

This is an opportunity to put chocolate and eggs aside. Childish things. And instead look to walk cheerfully, be an example wherever I my be. For me, I think part of this is to seek out real, deep thought and work — not the pre-lockdown default of mindless skimming over ideas and false pride over being busy doing stuff everyone will have forgotten next week, never mind next Easter. Deep work, thinking, writing that will make a difference; that perhaps will help people question the legitimacy of authority, and find their own ways to rise out from these times. To misquote the serenity prayer, the hard bit is finding the grace (that I am not sure I have) to know the difference between the busy work and the real.

Posted on April 23, 2020   #lockdown     #memories  

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