Writer’s Block: Easter Traditions

By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
editor@portisabelsouthpadre.com

There’s a ceramic coffee mug filled with silk flowers that sits atop an end table in my parents’ living room this time of year. It’s shaped to look like a rabbit with its floppy ears curving outward to form handles. Its almost doleful eyes look upward, while its front paws are clasped together at the chest in high relief against red overalls. Surrounding it on the table, and in the room at large, are other bunnies, Easter eggs, wicker baskets and spring flowers in a riot of pastel shades.

My mom has always been one to decorate according to the season, and Easter is one of her favorites. I don’t think anyone else in my family but me places any special significance on that coffee mug, though. See, that little bit of slip-cast porcelain is the only thing I have that was given to me by my father’s father who died when I was in grade school.

It’s really a small miracle that such a fragile gift has survived so long. I was a bit of a klutz as a kid and broke more bowls and glasses than I can count, much to my mom’s dismay. But the little bunny was spared and makes a reappearance every spring, making me smile every time it does. It reminds me of the Easters as a kid that we’d split between my mom’s family and my dad’s.

Easter Sunday always started out early in the morning, with everyone in the family donning new clothes bought just for the occasion before heading off to church. Afterward, we’d drive to my maternal grandparents’ home where the BBQ pit was already lit and cartons full of cascarones sat waiting to be hidden from us, the gaggle of rowdy cousins eager to start with the eggshell cracking. After a couple of hours there, we’d venture a couple of towns over to visit with my dad’s parents and family. There would be more barbecuing, and more cousins scattered throughout the wood frame ranch house which was painted a coincidentally appropriate shade of pale pink. The sound of the screen door slamming against the jamb was a common one, as was the loud volume of my aunts and uncles telling jokes in the kitchen.

Eventually, cascarones would be hidden throughout the expansive yard for yet another Easter egg hunt, which included cascarones, but also plastic eggs filled with candy and — if we were lucky — some money. As a kid, I always wanted to find the golden egg, the one that had a dollar bill in it. I also looked forward to receiving an Easter basket full of chocolates and a stuffed animal. When you’re a kid, getting a gift is just about the best thing in the world. That’s how I came to receive the Easter bunny coffee mug. One year my grandfather, father of 15 and grandfather to more than that, gave us each a gift. The mug was mine.

I don’t have any of those old Easter baskets. The stuffed animals are gone. The chocolate has long since been eaten. But that mug and the memories of warm spring afternoons spent laughing with family, those I still have. And now as an adult, I realize those were the real gifts.

Whatever your plans are this holiday, I hope that you, too, can receive such gifts, or even create that with your own families and friends. One way you can start is by participating in a public Easter egg hunt, such as the one that will occur at the SPI Farmers Market, located at The Shores. Lineup begins at noon, and the hunt kicks off at 12:15 p.m. And as always, be sure to visit us online at www.portisabelsouthpadre.com.

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