Thursday, March 18, 2010

Organic Easter

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — This year, I’m in the mood for a minimalist, low-impact, labor un-intensive Easter.
Homemade is usually earth-friendly and it’s also the least expensive way to go in tough economic times.
It may also be the most fun, and the best way to generate fond memories that last a generation.
I’ve been touched, and privileged, over my years in Las Cruces to witness some wonderful traditions, like watching viejos and viejas share the techniques of making traditional palmas, used in Palm Sunday services, with younger generations at Tortugas Pueblo.
Philly Dickson told me how much it meant to her to share those experiences as a young girl, and in all the years since.
She’ll miss the friendly, creative gatherings this year, because of a health issue, “But I’ll be there in spirit, and somehow, no matter what, enough people always seem to show up to get everything done,” she said.
Some Las Crucens go with more contemporary ideas, but that homemade spirit is still what they’re after.
When I was talking to Rhoda Mitchell for today’s story, she told me about some unique eggs she made with her kids.
“I would draw little cartoon characters, Pocahontas and other Disney characters, on their eggs. One year, we had all the NFL teams on eggs,” she said.
But there were never any prefab Easter baskets. It’s a family tradition to pick out all the treats and assemble custom candy and treat assortments for the kids, one year, in a little red wagon for each child, “and then the Easter bunny leaves them, like Santa Claus,” she said.
That’s how it was in my house, too.
Every year, mom would show us how to blow the gooey contents out of eggs, which we’d save for scrambled eggs or a quiche. It was not an easy task. Most years, if I remember right, we’d max out at about two apiece and then we’d decide to move on and dye the hard-boiled eggs.
I remember the dye pellets and powders and little decals and crayons. The results were never quite as impressive as the pictures on the little Easter kits. But we were very proud.
And we relished the leftover purple and pink and green and yellow deviled eggs, to snack on for days after the Easter feast, kind of a kiddy version of a St. Paddy’s day green beer blast. The eggs were almost as delicious as the first bite of your chocolate bunny’s eartips and as satisfying as consuming a hoarded stock of your favorite color of jelly beans. (I was partial to the minty green ones.)
I’ve wondered how a perfumer would sum up the aromas of an American Easter: ham, hard-cooked eggs, slightly stale candy, hot cross buns and fresh spring flowers and new grass. Irresistible.
But the true meaning of Easter does not elude childhood perceptions. Some of my first vivid memories of church ceremonies are indelibly joined with the traditions and displays: Easter lilies, the little Sunday School lessons and pledge envelopes with crosses, waving the palms we made out of green crepe paper ...
The crucifixion was a vital and necessary part of the sermons, lessons and passion plays, but somehow, in those kinder, gentler, pre-Mel Gibson “Passion of the Christ” days, the focus seemed to be on the hopeful, palm-waving preludes and the triumphant resurrection, rather than the crucial but gory and heartbreaking second act.
I thought about that as an adult one Caribbean spring, on a ship off the shores of Granada, as I watched their traditional Easter kite flying rites, symbolizing Christ’s ascension to Heaven.
I like the eggs and the bunnies. But if I had to hard-boil it down to the crucial elements of Easter for myself and my loved ones, I think I’d go with a crucial trinity of symbols: the palms, the crosses and the kites.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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