Today is Holy Saturday. When I was little, we knew it as the Saturday before the Easter Bunny came. And Mom had this crazy tradition — that I have no idea of it’s origination. I think I’ll have to ask her tomorrow when we go to her house for Easter dinner. She would have each of us kids put one of our boots outside the back of the house and leave it there. The Easter Bunny would come and put a small treat in there if we were good. I’m sure she did this, because we were so excited for the Easter Bunny’s arrival (and it also kept us behaved!). We would go out and play and a couple hours later, there would be baggies of candy in our boots. We never got a glimpse of the Easter Bunny, but Mom would always say she saw him hopping away.
When I look at our 8 mm home movies, there are a few themes that are consistent throughout the tapes. I fortunately had all those 8 mm tapes converted to DVDs about 10 years ago. We could no longer watch them, because we could no longer get the bulb that had burnt out in the projector. Anyways, Easter was always a common theme. Meaning Dad took Easter movies almost every year. It was a tradition.
Often, my Mom made my sister and me matching dresses. I love to watch the earliest movies, because the fashion was mod, and Mom would dress us in the cutest coats with matching hats, white tights and patent leather shoes. We looked like weeble-wobbles when we were toddlers — just too cute.
The Easter Bunny always came before church and our baskets were filled with candy, toys and stuffed animals! We were probably on sugar overload before we even got to church. Easter was a big deal in our family. After church, my grandparents and Aunt Mary came over and sometimes my cousins, Teresa and Matt and Uncle John and Aunt Polly came from Parkersburg, West Virginia.
We got to see our cousins about four or five times a year. And those were the best times of all! Teresa was born between Bob and me and Matt was born after Debbie. Tommy came along about eight years later and unfortunately was not born yet for any of our early memories. We were teenagers when he was as old as we are in these pictures (screen shots from the home movies).
The most memorable Easter was in 1983 with my cousins, who we considered them as being “from the city”, came up to our house for Easter. This is the year our baby lambs were born on Easter Sunday. To me, Parkersburg is more of a small town USA, not a city. But I guess maybe to us, we lived in the country with no immediate neighbors and raised farm animals, they lived in the city. So anyways, I had to leave the party and go out to feed my sheep and tend to the other animals. That year it had snowed, maybe Easter was earlier in March, and we had about two feet of snow on the ground. We had cleared a path about three feet wide from the house to the barn, because in those days we had to still carry water by buckets to the barn (it would freeze) for the animals. Later Dad put in automatic water feeders and life became a whole lot easier! It was nearing dark, if not completely dark at this point. I switched on the lights inside the barn and I heard my ewe, Amanda crying loudly. I ran through the barn and to her pen, and she was lying on her side in full blown labor. She was birthing her baby lambs!!!
This was the first time we would have lambs. We had never raised sheep other than those we had as lambs for 4-H. Debbie and I waited for the day that both of our sheep would have their babies, but we didn’t know exactly when that would be. And mine was first! I was elated and ran back to house, screaming “She’s having her babies! She’s having her babies!” the whole way to the house. I remember running through snow banks — just to get into the house quicker.
When everyone heard the news, they all came out to the barn. We dug through our closets, pulling out extra hunting boots and old coats for my cousins and grandparents. We had people sitting on the railings on the tops of the steer pens watching this all happen. Amanda gave birth to two baby lambs that Easter — we named them Bo Bo and Buster. Bo Bo was a completely black lamb! The other was white with a few spots of black. They were Oxfords, so they tended to have black patches within their wool. I spent that Easter evening in the barn, watching over my new little arrivals.
In 1972 or 1973, my Grandpap Miller had won a giant chocolate Easter Bunny (see home movie). We spent that Easter Sunday at their house for dinner, and we all got out picture taken with the giant bunny before he donated it to the Children’s Home in Beaver Falls, PA.
So with all traditions, things change and things go. My cousins haven’t been home for Easter in 20 years or more. They now live in Charleston, SC. We long to see them every year and still give them a call on Easter. My grandparents are no longer with us or my Dad. Tom’s Dad is no longer with us and his immediate family is living in Phoenix, AZ. The barn is empty and falling down — there hasn’t been sheep in there in almost 30 years. But we still go to my Mom’s every Easter and have that traditional Easter Ham for dinner. And today as I sit here, I wonder if my Mom will be thinking about those days when she had to find a way to sneak outside, undetected, to drop a baggy of goodies in our little snow boots. I used to envy the fact that she got to see the Easter Bunny. How lucky she was!