I come from a very presentational family. Easter always brought out the best and worst of that trait.
To give you a perspective, my mother was a Cheerleader. My sister was a dancer and a Majorette. My niece is following in their footsteps as a Cheerleader and dancer. I come from a long line of people who stood out in 30 degree temperatures in a sequined swimsuit in front of hundreds of people.
Makes you kind of understand why I always tried for-with varying degrees of success- a more quiet, classically elegant personae –at least until my third drink. I couldn’t compete in their arena nor did I want to…
Clothes were always important to me. Even when I didn’t know anywhere near what I know about them now…
I carried hand luggage on a Boy Scout’s Primitive Camping trip. Well, my friend Kenny carried it for me….I couldn’t imagine going away for 3 days and 2 nights with only a backpack.
It all started with Easter….
As I’ve said before, I was raised “Social” Baptist. My mother came from a family of, thankfully, not practicing Primitive Baptists. I’ve always wondered how that jelled with the Cheerleading… My father came from a genteel Southern Presbyterian background. As far as I can tell, they didn’t step foot in a church from the time they married until some time after I was born 8 years later. Then they compromised on “Social” Baptist.
As soon as the church we went to put in air conditioning in the early 1960′s a couple of women started wearing their little mink jackets. In August. Come to think of it, their husbands may have been Heating and Air businessmen. I’ve always been convinced their families gave the money to put in the air conditioning.
At our Church, every summer, the woman who was president of the Vacation Bible School always showed up in a hat and gloves and a different outfit everyday. My mother held that position a couple of times- I think just to get the clothes.
As for Easter, soon as the first crocuses showed themselves, my mother would begin her focus of the spring season: What everyone was to wear to Church on Easter Sunday. Even if we hadn’t been to Church since Christmas.
Now Christmas might have been observed with some religious significance in our house, but not much more than Easter. For far too many years, my Mother’s main focus for the December holidays was on winning the Temple Terrace Women’s Club Home Decoration Contest. She never won, but she kept trying. This led to scenes in front of our house during Christmas decorating such as the year she said: ” I think they are going for a more understated classic look this year. Take the light bulb out of the baby Jesus and use a spotlight on the manger scene instead.” But that is another post I’ll save for December…
But Easter was all about the clothes. When I was very young, she had to have our clothes from the best stores in Danville. That meant my sister and I had to be dressed by the Children’s Shoppe with shoes from McCollum-Ferrell, while she terrorized Rippes for herself. All of this relaxed in the late 1960′s– around 1970– but this did happened during my formative years and this fact stayed with me for life: Easter is about clothes.
When my aunt moved to Charlotte in 1965, the clothes thing moved to a whole new level. Then our clothes had to come from “out of town”. As far as I knew, there was no other reason for Charlotte to exist, but for shopping. My mother lived to say ” we picked that up in Charlotte” like some people would say “I got that in Paris”. And in Danville Virginia in the late 1960′s, they were equally as foreign.
This did lead to some family bonding. The only common gene I can see in my family is the shopping gene. We might not agree on anything else in life, but none of us can’t help ourselves if there is a retail hunt in the offing. It doesn’t even have to make sense. My mother once bought so much stuff at Waccamaw Pottery in Burlington that she had to make two trips to get it all home to Danville. It wouldn’t all fit in the car at one time. There was a sale on wicker chairs she could not resist…
So to this day, even though I no longer go to church on Easter, come spring I think of new clothes and changing things out for the season. This recognition of seasonal change is almost pagan. Maybe it is another recessive gene from my long-lost pagan ancestors.
As Easter approaches, I change out my wardrobe and put out the spring/summer household accessories. Maybe changing the fall/winter throw pillows and shower curtains for the spring/summer versions -which one of my friends said was the gayest thing she ever heard of- is my spiritual recognition of the season.
I think the important thing is that we recognize the impact of the change of seasons on our lives–
And that it’s all about the clothes.