Easter a time of abundance after 40 days of Lent - with a day off for St. Patricks' Day of course. A whole month with no sweets, sugar and I don't how many Hail Marys and Stations of the Cross. This was the backdrop of my childhood Easter of the 80 and 90s.
Praying for everyone that my Mama had ever met or indeed walked past as she would say all people deserve love. I used to wonder if our house would catch fire by the sheer volume of candles that were lit. I often pondered if our Knock Holy Water to be used in emergencies to douse them out - would infact make them go up in flames.
So many happy and fun memories from idylic days on my Aunt and Uncles Farm to my Fathers legendary Easter Egg Hunts in Karachi, to watching the sun dance on Easter Morning. Sit back and have a cuppa and a hot cross bun as I take you on a nostaglic trip down memory lane with a poignent message.
I used to love going to my Aunt and Uncles for Easter. There was always a roaring fire, a beautiful Easter roast and a farm full of baby animals. The Easter Chicks would arrive and I would be hopping on one foot all day waiting to go and see them. All bright and fluffy as the concofiny of chirps would hit my ears.
My eyes wide with excitement. I could never quite take in what I was seeing. So much new life. We would collect the eggs and weigh them to find the double yokers ready for our Easter Breakfast the next day.
I would hope for the wrong reasons a lamb would be rejected by its Mama. So I could hold it and bottle feed it to make it big and strong. I felt so grown up at four or five as I played being Mama. I felt valued and trusted, an important part of any childs development.
My Mama so proud of her Easter Baskets tied with bright ribbons. She made everything so special. She could turn the most simple of objects into something so unique and full of awe. It is now I am older and have my own children. I really understand how much she loved. She loved life but she loved her family even more. She brought the magic that no one else could.
Dad also loved Easter and he always brought the laugther. Every year in Karachi, Pakistan Dad would organise an Easter Egg Hunt. Mama and I would go to the New JC Misquita Bakery hidden in one of the backstreets of Saddar to source the tasty treats. The marzipan eggs were so beautifully piped and would always have a sweet suprise inside as you "hatched" the hollow egg. A beautiful nod back to pre Cadbury Easter Egg days.
Dad stood for a while, the first year scratching his head with a cigarette in hand. Trying to work out how he was going to hide the eggs without them melting. I recall seeing Dad late at night, sat there with a bottle of red wine in a cloud of smoke hunched over something. He had bought onyx bunches of grapes and sat there separating them each by hand.
He could have asked any of the house staff to do it but Dad took great joy in doing it himself. He hid the grapes and then large onyx eggs for the younger children all over our garden and waited for people to arrive. You would swop your eggs for marzipan and if you were extra lucky the British Consulate or Bank post may have delivered some small cream eggs. They were like golddust.
The alcohol would be flowing, the music playing and the hunt would be on. One of his colleagues said “ He was the only one to organise an Easter Egg Hunt every year at the bank house for the kids and my three boys would just love the hunt.” I can still see Dads lovely big smile as he would spend the day laughing as only he could.
He would always ask afterwards - Imogen what worked, what didn’t and what could we have done better. He even asked me that after my 4th birthday and my own wedding. Never afraid to reflect and change things.
Then there was Crete - a beautiful Easter Holiday where we met an eccentric character on the beach called Doug. My Mother looked on as he dug a hole to Australia for the Easter Bunny to travel through.
As if it was the most normal thing in the world. I wasn’t so sure about this at five. I am sure they lived in Warrens and was curious to how he would actually dig to Australia as it used to take Dad 24 hours to fly there. Surely the Easter Bunny could just use magic?
So I decided to leave a note for the Easter Bunny but I was extremely worried he wouldn’t get it. After an agonising long dinner Dad and I went to reception to leave my note. Their smiles...
The next morning the hotel had rabbit mud foot prints going to every door with a child. I remember my pure joy. I wondered all day why people kept thanking my parents for making Easter so special. I completely bought the fact that Mama said it was because she had told them to watch the sun dance on the beach as it rose.
What I realise now about all these stories is that I don’t remember any of the eggs I got. Apart from one from my Auntie Anne and Uncle Jimmy. A Thorntons one with my name on. That I used to leave next to my bed to look at in wonder every night for months.
The eggs weren’t important. It was the memories we created, the moments that bonded us as a family. Childhood is a magical time and you only get it once but you get to relive it all over and over again in the never ending storybook that is your brain.
We are starting our own memories with this wonderful decorative Easter Äggs that Xanthe our three year old left out for the Easter Bunny. It is so beautiful and it will become a treasured part of our Easter as we use it year after year. The onxy eggs have travelled from Karachi to Whitstable ready for a Easter Egg Hunt on the beach with her Grandpa and Daddy. With time for me to have a lovely sea swim - maybe I will find some waterproof ones!
But Before all of that I can't wait to wake her up and take her to the beach to watch the sun dance just like my Mama did with me.
It was just us two and it felt so magical and special. It transports me back to Aclare, Sligo and I feel Mama and her Papa sitting there with me as I watch.
Now its my turn to pass it on to Xanthe. No photos, no phones. Just the two of us watching the sun dances as it rises. It really does if you watch closely.
What ever you do this Easter enjoy the moment. Enjoy being together and if you can’t be together do something special just for you. This is a time for reflection, new beginnings and new life.
Lockdown has taught me all over again to value the simple and magical things in life. Make them the star of the show. The rest doesn't really matter.