Easter Memories

My mother, born and raised in Norway, was a Lutheran. When I was 4, she became baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness and raised us children as such. (We had no say in it, of course.) As a JW, my mother forbid all manner of fun – including all the Christian holidays and celebrations normally enjoyed by schoolchildren in the U.S. (Anything not approved by the JWs was deemed as a “pagan celebration” and/or part of an ancient “fertility rite.” Those were reasons given for denying my request to wear fishnet hose and get my ears pierced.)

easterislandThis meant, of course, Easter was off the table. (source of Easter Island pic)

Sadly (though not uncommon for the time), my non-JW father left everything regarding child raising to my mother. His best friend from college was our Uncle Walter (no blood relation). Now Uncle Walter’s dad owned a great candy store in San Francisco, and every Easter he would bring huge baskets stuffed with amazing sweet creations for us children. Ignoring we children drooling with anticipation, my mother would never let us dive into the basket of goodies, claiming they could wait until the next day.

That night, however, as she tucked us in bed, she would give us a rousing lecture about Jehovah (god), how Easter-was-really-the-pagan-Roman-celebration-of-Saturnalius, and how we risked god’s (not to mention my mother’s), wrath should we eat or even lick a morsel of the pagan celebratory candies. We would sneak peeks around her to look at the pile of goodies while she set us up for nightmares.

paradiselostparadiseregainedparadise_lost_209As an aside, I had a lot of horrific nightmares as a child. I believe they were born of the fear that the JWs pounded into their adherents. Here’s some pictures from the orange colored JW’s “children’s” book of my youth, From Paradise Lost, To Paradise Regained. (Pic source and source) Hence the nightmares.

But I digress. So we children could only stare at (and long for) the candy until my dad was out of the house at which time my mother would throw it in the garbage.

easterbasketWhile as an adult I never identified with any religion, when she was about 10 my daughter asked if she could have an Easter basket. (I guess she heard about them on TV.) So I looked into it. (pic source) I decided – as any good parent would, I thought – that a basket of candy for a child was, well, just silly and bad for the teeth! So I created a basket filled with pretty little soaps in shapes of various animals, a couple of hand knit cotton wash cloths (to match the soaps), a back scrubber, and bath salts. Last time I did that; she cried for the rest of the day. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

seescandyMy daughter is grown and has her own family. I still never know what to do when Easter rolls around. Thankfully, See’s Candies makes it easy. ๐Ÿ™‚ (pic source)

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About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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29 Responses to Easter Memories

  1. A friend of mine told me her mother instructed them on the importance of gloves – as a way to disguise sweaty palms! My friend told me another trick her mother shared: run anti-perspirant deoderant on your palms before you go out! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  2. iknead2knit says:

    I vowed I’d never make my kids do that – no matter what. Can white gloves even be bought now? Hope not! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  3. I remember family pictures were we stood all starched and uncomfortable! Wearing white gloves too!

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  4. Yes, it’s not just hard for the kids to be raised JW. It really strains their relationship with loving, non-JW relatives. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  5. I was brought up by JW parents too, I always remember the year my Nan gave up trying to give us Easter eggs…x

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  6. iknead2knit says:

    Always interesting to hear about other experiences. My family always celebrated Easter but what stands out in my mind is not the candy and Easter, it’s the itchy, crackly crinolines and fancy dresses my mother made me wear. I still shudder when I see a kid in similar finery! Thanks for the read!

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  7. Ludmilla says:

    After 40+ days of denial, we definitely enjoy the celebration. The joy that day is overflowing, whether or not one believes in the putative reason for the celebration.

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  8. It must be wonderful to have people like that in your life!

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  9. When my mother was in Norway, my mother would take us to visit his Russian immigrants friends who settled in San Francisco. I particularly remember him taking us there on an Easter …. I had never imagined such a celebration. And the family was so nice to us geeky Jehovah’s Witness-raised kids. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. knitish says:

    Oddly enough, I never stopped eating white chocolate. I did however stop riding in the backseat of my mom’s car-per her request!

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  11. My Fathers older brother (my Uncle) was consistently kind and generous to me. He is in his 80s now and still lovely.

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  12. Ludmilla says:

    Being Eastern Orthodox Christian, I get to celebrate 2 Christmases every year and, on most years, 2 Easters. The “Western” Easter, when I was little, was a treat: chocolate and baskets of goodies and stuffing oneself with great American food. Our Easter is very church oriented, following 40 days of fasting and prayer and long church services. I cook the special Ukrainian Easter foods that my mother and grandmother prepared and gorge on chocolate after the baskets of food have been blessed after the Easter service at midnight. (I’m simplifying the traditions, for brevity’s sake.) My parents were terrific about holidays and never denied us sweets and strange-to-them customs. We were lucky they were so liberal in thought. Maybe that’s why I don’t hate my religion, even if it is patriarchal and misogynist like most Christian sects. The music and the “pagan” customs are what I like about it, I guess. (Sorry for this long reply,) Happy weekend, everyohe.

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  13. ethgran says:

    The dark chocolate marsipan is my favorite too. ;o}

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  14. Have you ever been able to eat white chocolate again?! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  15. I think that must be difficult – how to keep the commercial from overrunning the spiritual. When my daughter was little she asked me why we didn’t celebrate [fill in the holiday], and I would explain that the celebrations are related to people’s faith or religious beliefs. As we weren’t religious, I explained, celebrating it meant we were only doing it for the material aspect. That was my thinking at the time, at least. She clearly didn’t like that because now as a great mother with her own family, even though she nor her husband are religious their garage contains large sealed containers clearly marked “Christmas,” “Easter,” etc., each filled with ornaments etc. related to that holiday. I tease her that she’s turned into the Martha Stewart of holidays. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hey, it makes her and her family happy, so that’s all that matters.

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  16. Oh yes, holidays always made me feel glum – and extremely embarrassed – on school days. We were also excused from every holiday related – plays, musical events, etc. It would have been better if JWs didn’t consider themselves Christian. (As an adult, people always assume I am Jewish as all the standard “Christian” events are a puzzle to me.)

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  17. I joke that if the LDS had met my mother before the JWs, we may have been raised as LDS. ๐Ÿ™‚ (They generally seem a lot nicer to their children than the JWs.) I love the dark chocolate covered marsipan candies at See’s!

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  18. Tea sounds good … ๐Ÿ™‚ I was lucky to have two greatgrandparents who were the proverbial “rocks” for me – my Norwegian grandmother and my American grandfather. Oddly, I lost them both the same year – when my daughter was 18. She was lucky to have known them too. She was particularly close to her greatgrandfather. They called each other, “The Great Ones.” ๐Ÿ™‚

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  19. I like that idea – celebrating Spring’s arrival!

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  20. Yes, they weren’t great parents. Thankfully, I always felt the biggest blessing in my life was being a mom, and now a grandmom!

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  21. Well, though the impact of the soap-filled Easter basket was not what I had hoped for, my intent was good. ๐Ÿ™‚ My daughter and her husband would buy empty colorful plastic eggs and then stuff a little toy in them before hiding in the yard. That way the children got candy from friends and family, but it wasn’t all candy!

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  22. knitish says:

    I loved this post. I once ate way too much white chocolate bunny on Easter and ended up puking it all over the back seat of the car on the way home but aside from that I have all good Easter memories. Thanks for giving me a reason to appreciate them.

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  23. Easter is tricky for us, too. Only our struggle is because we are Christian. How much candy and how much eggs and how much Jesus. Holidays are tough when you’re raising kids and want only the best for them. I hope we can find a happy balance so our kids have fond memories of Easter to blog about in years to come. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now I am headed to the See’s store. I think I need a pound of something good. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  24. Growing up in the South (as a Southern Baptist), I have wonderful Easter memories. Your blog brought me back to the times that I watched with such a sad and broken heart to my JW friends and classmates who were present when our class had the holiday parties in school. I was too little to understand why they were sitting out, but I do remember the sadness in their eyes as they were cloistered to a back corner of the room. That has never left me. The only thing I knew how to do was to just keep loving them even if we couldn’t always do the same things.

    Those feelings have never left me as I have and continue to have friends of many faiths (Judaism, Muslim, Christian) as well as those who do not believe (my agnostic and atheist friends).

    You know no matter what you choose to do, it’s never too late to start a new tradition. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  25. ethgran says:

    I was raised in a loving LDS home which allowed candy at Easter and so much more but that’s not the point I’m after. I commend those who rise above their upbringing and create loving and kind homes for their children. Also the mention of See’s Candies really made my mouth water. I grew up in Sacramento so See’s holds such fond memories for me.

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  26. If I lived closer I would like to invite you over for a cup of tea an Easter Egg and a giggle. My parents were cruel and unusual but fortunately I am neither. Life is harder without sensible role models. We are awesome!

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  27. streepie says:

    Your mother most probably believed she was doing the best for you – but in hindsight, it just seems so cruel.
    I am not religious, but we still celebrate Easter. I colour hard-boiled eggs, and fill small baskets with chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs. These are then hidden in the garden the morning of Easter Sunday, and then my daughter is sent on an Easter Egg hunt.

    Easter for me is less the Christian Holiday, then the celebration of the passage into spring.

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  28. Pia says:

    Your mum is a rather sad case (well, your dad to actually)…. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I had those things and still don’t celebrate today, I also believe kids should not have sugar until they absolutely can’t wait, but as strict as that…. Cruel.

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  29. kiwiyarns says:

    You were such a mean mommy giving your daughter soap instead of candy! (:o Those pictures were burned into my mind as well. Funny how things can create very lasting memories. Even though I never had Easter as a child, I use Easter as an event to have some fun with my children. We do chocolate egg hunts, which even the teenagers still enjoy.

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