Today marks the first holiday I’ve ever had to spend without my mother since her passing and it’s left me wondering one thing … did she leave this Earth to avoid coloring and hiding Easter eggs?
Because, truth be told, that sounds like something she definitely would have done.
My mother was a devout Catholic woman — she attended parochial schools from kindergarten through college — who celebrated this holiday and all of its religious implications. She would have made sure we were in church at least an hour before it started — we often would get there before the previous mass had ended — in order to beat the crowd and get a pew right up front.
That being said, however, she pretty much loathed all of the other, more secular things associated with the Easter holiday.
She hated coloring eggs.
She hated hiding eggs.
She hated filling Easter baskets.
All of this, I suppose, she considered a colossal waste of time. And, I guess when you have a full-time job teaching elementary school children and are raising five children of your own at home, time is probably at a premium. I remember her going through the whole Easter Bunny charade a few times, but by the time I had reached about the second grade, my older siblings had pretty much clued me in there was no such thing as the Easter Bunny.
My mother made no attempts to dissuade them.
And that’s how, on every Easter moving forward, I could count on my mom to throw a few candy bars my way on Easter and that was the end of it. She’d still boil up eggs for us to color — but she complained the entire time and I truly believe the only reason she did it was because she knew how much my old man loved egg salad sandwiches and would eat all the hard-boiled eggs afterwards.
Of course, it wasn’t just Easter my mother found distasteful. She didn’t touch alcohol (ironic, I know), so she never had much use for New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day.
She detested wrapping presents or decorating the house around Christmas time, and her avoidance of both became the stuff of legend. She would put all of our Christmas presents in a separate cardboard box for each of us, then wrap the box and put each one under the tree for us. Needless to say, I found out there was no Santa Claus at a much younger age than most of my peers. She would eventually figure out a way around the Christmas tree problem, too. For the last decade of her life or so, she would simply have me come over to her house after the holidays and put the tree — still fully decorated — in the garage, where it would stay until the following December, at which point I’d pull it out of the garage and put it in her family room.
Of all the holidays out there, however, the one she despised the most was, by far, Halloween. There was literally nothing she liked about the holiday. She hated getting her kids dressed up for Halloween and, much more than that, she hated kids ringing her doorbell and she hated passing out candy.
So, in my beloved mother’s typical fashion, she do her best to find ways around it. Eventually, she would just have us wear some sort of sports jersey when we went trick-or-treating and say we were a professional athlete (which, in my case at least, certainly was a stretch). She even started putting the candy out in a plastic bowl on her front porch with a sign that said, “Take one,” leaving kids to the honor system. This honor system, by the way, pretty much never worked, and the third or fourth kid who walked by would usually dump the whole bowl in his or her bag and walk off.
This never bothered my mother, who just figured it ended the night that much earlier.
But as I sit here thinking about my mom on my first holiday without her, I’m struck by one thing (and thankfully, it’s not the back of her hand, as was often the case when I’d write about her in my columns): As much as my mother hated all of those things about holidays, she loved all of us with every ounce of her being.
She did her best to make our holidays special when we were younger, no matter how much she hated coloring eggs, wrapping presents or coming up with a Halloween costume at the last minute. When we got older and moved out of the house, she loved having us come back and, along with her grandchildren, fill her house with love and laughter.
I miss you mom, as much now as I did the day you left us in February. I wish you could be here to watch your grandkids color Easter eggs, grumbling the entire time about them spilling dye on your carpet.
Happy Easter, mom.
Troy’s very own appears weekly in the Miami Valley Sunday News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong