Easter Sunday reminds me of clip-on bow ties. The plaid kind my mother would have my brothers and I clip on our collars for the church service; collars that were always, it seemed, heavily starched.  Easter was a fairly solemn affair and you had to dress in your best Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, in the parlance of the times.

Our church growing up was First Presbyterian. My father was raised Catholic and my mother was raised Primitive Baptist, and with few options in our little town you might say they split the difference, and so we all became Presbyterians. I don’t recall if there was fussing between the two about this agreement but they both seemed satisfied with the minister’s sermons. Our pastor, Henry McKenzie, had emigrated from Scotland and we learned to call him Mr. McKenzie. He was quite the Calvinist scholar and had published a handful of monographs and books of his sermons, many of which extolled the practical virtues of Henry David Thoreau and the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

If you’ve seen Barry Fitzgerald in the 1940s movie Going My Way, that’s the way I pictured pastor McKenzie, good-humored and kindly, but also with a stern Scottish work ethic, which my brother and I experienced first-hand when we were made to wash windows every Saturday in the fellowship hall for some malfeasance we had apparently committed.

Speaking of movies, there was a sequel to Going My Way called The Bells Of St. Mary’s which starred Bing Crosby. Both of those are feel-good movies to watch this weekend. Also, Easter Parade with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire if you’re into singing and dancing.

I know those are older but believe it or not, some of those movies from the ’30s and ’40s are more entertaining than what we get nowadays. At least back then, movie audiences were not partial to watching a character throwing up or going to the bathroom like now. And for some reason, footwear was not spotlighted when a character stepped out of a vehicle.

What’s with that?

While I’m on the subject, I’ve seen so many movies that I’ve learned a few rules:

  • When being chased by a car you should keep running down the middle of the road instead of ducking in somewhere where a car cannot go.
  • Whenever a character is coming back from the supermarket, there is invariably a baguette sticking out of the top of the paper (not plastic) bag.
  • If someone coughs, they’ll be dead by the end of the movie.
  • If someone says they’ll never-ever-ever do something, they’ll be doing it in the next scene.
  • If a character is having a nightmare, they will suddenly bolt upright, sweating and breathing heavily.
  • If a cop is a day or two away from retirement, he’ll die in the movie.
  • If there’s a movie about a famous somebody’s life, there’ll be a lot of yelling in at least one scene.
  • People in movies can have lengthy conversations while driving without looking at the road.
  • Thunder and lightning always strike at exactly the same moment in films. And not only that but it immediately starts raining cats and dogs.
  • Speaking of cats and dogs, dogs always know who’s bad and bark at them. And cats are always waiting to jump out on a character at around shoulder height.
  • Movie characters never make typing mistakes on a computer.

But I digress. We were talking about Easter.

Easter Sunday was special because it was one of the few times we kids got to drink the grape juice at Communion. It was a dry county, after all. And the Easter potluck directly after.

I don’t mean to go on and on about this, but I guess most people have those kinds of memories of Easter when they were innocent kids. As opposed to later in life when, in my misspent 20s, I might’ve found myself on Easter looking for my cleanest dirty shirt, á la Kris Kristopherson’s song Sunday Morning Coming Down. OK, I’m exaggerating a tad.

At any rate, today is Maundy Thursday, followed by Good Friday, followed by Holy Saturday, followed by what many refer to as the holiest day of the year, Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday brings back memories of dressing up in a starched white shirt, pressed trousers, shiny shoes and clip-on bow tie. You know…Sunday go to meetin’ clothes. And then the eight of us would march down Main Street – usually in single file with our mother and father leading the way – to the Presbyterian Church. Following church we had family Easter egg hunts in the backyard; hard boiled eggs we dipped in dye ourselves. That was before Cadbury eggs were invented.

Today, by the way, also marks the end of the 40-day Lenten season, which means whatever you deprived yourself of seven weeks ago, feel free to indulge.

Me, I’m thinking Cadbury eggs.

 

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