By Diana Croissant
I shared a Christmas memory; and because I did, I received emails from distant relatives. That was so exciting for me. But Easter was, in many ways, more special for our family than Christmas, so I want to share memories of that, too.
Though it may not be a German-Russian tradition, the Easter dresses and bonnets always come to my mind when I think about Easter celebrations. Mother worked many hours in advance of Easter sewing special Easter dresses for her three girls. And we each of us always got to pick out a bonnet to go with her new dress.
Easters were most often spent with my Croissant cousins after church having Easter dinner at my grandparents' house. Just walking into the house to smell the food preparing was a treat in itself. We would have roast chicken and all the other fixings. But dinner always started with chicken noodle soup (and the noodles were the home-made variety, of course) with butterballs. Those butterballs were so much part of the enjoyment of having the soup for me that it wasn't until I was much older that I realized that my friends at school did not know what they were. My Grandma Croissant always flavored them with allspice, and we always sprinkled a little cinnamon into the soup. Grandma's garlic rolls and her cherry Kase-kuchen were also not to be missed at Easter.
But for the young, Easter dinner was also special because we got to feel quite grown up since we also got the shot glass of Easter wine at our place setting. My grandparents' house was not very big, so the covered card tables pushed together wound throughout the house.
Grandma had a large collection of shot glasses so that all the aunts, uncles, and cousins could have one at his or her plate. He filled each with Mogen David grape wine. Today, when my "cultured" friends have their wine-tasting parties or when they talk about special wines, I can't even imagine a better tasting wine than Mogen David grape.
Grandpa had spent the morning hiding the colored Easter eggs in his backyard; and, of course the egg hunt is also a source of special memories for me.
As we grew older, Easter also became important because it meant that the week before, during the year each of us turned fourteen, we would be confirmed in the church.
We had been studying our catechism at confirmation school each Saturday since the late fall. On Palm Sunday, we would be confirmed after the pastor had put us through the question-answer session to test our learning. We were usually each presented with a gift Bible from our respective godparents. (I still have mine, and it has always been my favorite Bible.) Then, on Maunday Thursday, we were finally able to participate in the Lord's Supper, having learned its meaning. Reverend Stroh had prepared us for that, too, by telling us what our particular family preferred: the wafers or the pieces of bread.
For us girls, being confirmed was also a transition into a more adult world. We, again, got to have a special dress made to wear, but this time it would first be worn under our white confirmation robe. But more importantly, it was the first time we were allowed to pick out "high" heels to wear with our dress and, of course, nylon stalkings. (The heels were not very high, though, usually only 2 inches at the most.)
Easter was always so important as I grew up. I cherish the memories and think of my family who are now not living, hoping they know how much I miss them.