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Easter still brings bunnies and buns but no more bonnets

“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…” So went the song by Fred Astaire and Judy Garland in a long-ago movie, ‘Easter Parade’.

“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…” So went the song by Fred Astaire and Judy Garland in a long-ago movie, ‘Easter Parade’. Many people these days would question, “What the heck is an Easter bonnet?”

I know, because I have one. It’s nest-shaped, a spring-like lilac shade of woven straw, wrapped in the same shade of tulle netting with a bouquet of tiny purple flowers in its midst, and it was my big sister’s, to be proudly worn to church on Easter morning. My mother’s was the same shade, but a more matronly fedora-type circled by a wide, matching grosgrain ribbon, and she had a lovely tweed dress coat in matching shades to wear for spring.

I’d have to dig out one of the family albums to see what I wore any given Easter Sunday, but I know that over the years, it ranged from a brimmed bonnet when I was small to a cream colored straw encircled by a sedate blue ribbon band that had tails hanging off the middle of the back when I was a few years older.

Each Easter morning, after finishing up the last of the hot cross buns Mother and my sister made every Good Friday, we hurried to get ready to head to town.

Everyone was definitely dressed in their best for Easter, as we piled into Father’s freshly washed 1936 Pontiac to head to town for the Easter morning service at Christ Church, Elbow Park in Calgary. It was such a major event that even my brother came along, the only time of the year that I ever recall him darkening the door of a church, and he brought along his current girlfriend, who was also dressed in her best and wearing a stylish hat. 

And it seemed like there was always time to take a few photos for the album before we all trooped in to the very church where I had been christened years earlier. Going to that church on Easter Sunday remained a family tradition long after my siblings married and moved away, and even continued a few times after I was married and had children, at least one time when my father bringing along his hired man to babysit.

Memories of Easter there include the swell of Easter hymns coming from the church’s huge and impressive pipe organ, the altar laden with rows of Easter lilies and the sun streaming through its magnificent stained glass windows on what was probably its largest congregation of the year, Easter church attendance being generally considered mandatory for those of us raised Anglican. When the big wooden offering plates came by, all of us children and some of the adults added our Lenten offering boxes to the pile of dollar bills.  At our house, those boxes contained any money we might have spent on candy during the 40 days of Lent, because Mother decreed that we must all give up something, and that meant not one bite of candy between Ash Wednesday and Easter.

Once the sounds of that final joyous hymn faded into the warm spring air, we would pile back into the Pontiac and quite often head to my godmother’s house for lunch before we headed home. Her children had already opened their Easter eggs and were generous about sharing a bite before we headed home, where I would finally get to crack open my own chocolate Easter egg, and enjoy. 

Chocolate bunnies were not common then, but chocolate of any kind was just perfect. I recall one year we stopped by the home of another of Mother’s friends, and her daughter was showing off the Easter egg her boyfriend had given her, which when cracked open, was found to be filled with chocolates, the only one like that I ever recall seeing.

Now, bunnies have largely taken over the Easter market from the big hollow eggs of years ago. There are plenty of tiny eggs, however, including those filled with caramel that are very hard to resist. Back in the day, filled eggs had gooey, over-sweet fondant centres, nowhere near as appealing. I’ll just stick to bunnies, once I’ve run out of hot cross buns!

About the Author: Vicki Brooker

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