Flashback Friday #3 – Easter Memories

Mocha With Linda has started her very own meme. This is how she describes it:

This new meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been!.

I am enjoying this meme a lot. Grab the button and the link and come play along. Linda’s theme this week is:

What was Easter like when you were little? For example, did you receive a basket with toys and candy? Was the Easter Bunny part of your family’s celebration? Did your family integrate both secular and spiritual aspects of the day? Did you dye Easter eggs. . . .and did your family eat them afterward? Did you usually get a new outfit? (Post a picture if you have one!) Does any Easter stand out particularly? You might also share how your Easter today is similar or different to your childhood.

I always got a new dress and new shoes for Easter. Shopping for it would be a big deal. Gram always got a new dress for Easter, too. We made it a girl’s outing and enjoyed lunch downtown, too. Easter morning we would don our new dresses for the first time and go to church. Easter was first and foremost about celebrating Jesus.

After church there was always a luncheon with a smorgasbord of food and tons of desserts, children’s performances, and singing was usually part of the program as well. It seemed like my Sunday school teacher was always full of ideas for skits and plays and party games. The afternoons were usually lively and full of fun.

When we got home, Gram would send me to my room to change into play clothes. When I emerged from my room an Easter Basket would await me. Gram had usually hid a half-dozen of the eggs we’d colored and I would look for them. Sometimes she would oblige me and hide them two or three times before insisting I return them to the fridge. Yes, we ate the eggs.  As a child I knew about the Easter Bunny, but I don’t ever remember believing him to be real.

As an adult, Easter is still all about celebrating Jesus. I haven’t bothered with the new dress and shoes for years now. The last time I colored eggs was probably 5 years ago for Sidewalk Sunday School. I have always attended both the sunrise service and the regular Sunday service on Easter. Our first two Easters together, Amoeba and I did the sunrise service and then went home. But last year we attended both services and we will this year, too, since Amoeba is playing music and/or singing in the service.

Thanks, Linda!  This was fun!

Slice of Life: The Tree

I was wandering the web about a week ago and stumbled across a website called, “Slice of Life Sunday.” It is a meme site that helps one focus his/her thoughts on a specific topic, and share a related life scene.

This week’s prompts are:
1.) A Lesson Learned in My Youth
2.) A Flight of Fancy

Ha! I thought. I can do both of those with just ONE story. I hopped over to my other blog, The Grownups Wanted Us Dead, and fetched this back:

The Tree

You’ve got to know that the best toy in the world for any kid is a tree with good climbing branches. When I was a kid we had several such trees in our neighborhood and in the summer we would spend more time in them than we did on the ground.

One tree in particular – a young pine – was our favorite. The tree was still very supple and one day when a group of us decided to see how high we could all climb, the tree began to lean. The higher we climbed the farther it leaned. Soon we were suspended just a few feet above the ground.

I don’t know whose idea it was, but somebody suggested we all jump out of the tree at the count of three. Then came the counting, the jumping and the landing. It all went surprisingly well.

After my friends crawled off the top of me and we sorted out which limbs belonged to whom, no one was hurt – much. There was a problem though. We were on the wrong side of the fence, in the Khol’s yard instead of the Jacobs’ yard. This meant that to climb the tree again we had to run through the Khol Orchard, scramble down the embankment, around the end of the fence, scramble back up the embankment, run across a small clearing and back into the stand of pines that housed our tree.

It really wasn’t much of a trip, 50 or 60 yards at most, but as we sprinted the course for the third time, I realized I was getting a little tired. After the fourth trip, as we were climbing the tree, I thought to myself, “I need a rest,” so I decided not to jump.

As the others prepared for departure, I snuggled up to the tree. I put my belly flush against the bark and wrapped my arms tight around the trunk. Handsome began counting …

One: I tightened my arms.

Two: I tightened my legs and crossed my ankles.

Three: …………………………..

I landed flat on my back in the Jacobs’ dog run. When I opened my eyes Thor, the German Shepherd god of thunder, towered over me. Thor spent most of his daily energy trying to catch small children to snack on, and there I was delivered to him from heaven — literally.

Truthfully, at that moment I really wasn’t too concerned about Thor. Probably because I thought I was already dead. There was no air in my body. I could not breathe.

As I lay there gasping … choking … convulsing, Thor raised his ears in curiosity, tipped his head sideways and smiled at me.

About that time my friends arrived, stopping safely out of reach of Thor’s chain. They were wonderfully helpful and shouted such encouragements as:

“Lay still!”

“Play dead!”

“Don’t move!”

I was reasonably certain I wasn’t playing dead.

Finally Preacher, the eldest Kohl kid, stretched out on his stomach and, risking his hand to Thor’s wrath, grabbed my ankle. Slowly, inch-by-inch he pulled me to safety. As soon as I was freed from Thor’s realm, my companions thought I should just pick myself up and walk home.

I remained on the ground convulsing like a fish out of water.

“Maybe we should take her home,” someone suggested. There were murmurs of agreement.

“How?” Someone else queried.

There were other comments, too. “That’s a lot of blood,” and “I’m not going to touch her,” are two I remember. I mean, being too bloody to touch had serious “cool” potential — providing I lived.

My struggle to draw air into my lungs distressed my friends to such an extent that they each grabbed one of my limbs and half-drug, half-carried me across the street and into my own yard. One of them ran to the door to get Gram so she could view my remains.

Gram declared that I would live and set to proving it with a tub of hot water, a scrub brush and much vigor. When she was finished saving me I almost resembled a human girl-child, except most of my visible skin was Mercurochrome neon-orange.

Gram rarely punished me for my stupidity. Usually she just left me to suffer the consequences of my actions — alone — in my room — for days (which sometimes lasted as long as a half-an-hour).

Post originally published on June 30th, 2006

As to the flight, I’m not certain how fancy it was, but it was certainly educational, so I figure it counts for the prompts. And if not, prompt #3 is Writer’s Choice.

UPDATE:  It appears that The Tree has posted the story from its point-of-view:  The Kids.

Young Love

Five year old Cass came into the classroom Friday morning carrying an envelope that had a semblance of  five year old Jay’s name scribbled on it in red crayon.  She took the missive straight to Jay.  He opened it, looked it over, grinned at her and put it in his pocket.  I did not get to see the paper.

During center activities they chose all of the same tasks and did them together.  At recess they played hand-in-hand.  At lunch they ate together.

At nap time Jay and Cass arranged their pallets side-by-side.  In the interests of sleep and not giggles, I separated them.  Jay sighed as he stretched out on his pallet.  He looked across the room at Cass, dug the paper from his pocket, opened it up and smoothed the wrinkles out.  I could see that it was a drawing of Cass and Jay, hand-in-hand.  Little hearts, X’s and O’s encircled them.

“Jay,” I said, “You need to put that away.  It’s nap time.”

Jay said, “But it is from my Cassie.”

“I know,” I said, “But you still have to put it away.”

“Okay,” he said.  Then he folded the note and placed it between his cheek and his pillow.   He looked across the room at Cass.  “I love you,” he called.

“I love you, too.” She answered back. They grinned at each other like Chesire Cats.

Too Smart to Talk to Strangers

I was sitting alone at the bus stop and two young sisters joined me. The older one said hello and asked if she could sit down. I told her that the stuff (still warm, half-full cartons of Chinese take-out) piled on the far end of the bench wasn’t mine. Together we moved them to a nearby tree stump, not wanting to toss them away in case their owner returned.

The girl pointed at the poster of a missing person and wondered aloud how a grown up could just disappear. Then she told me a wild rumor about a man who is supposedly on this island going from school-to-school and checking kids out of their classrooms. She said after he takes them away they are found a couple of days later dead.

I told her that the story wasn’t true. I explained that it hadn’t been on the news. Besides, I said, I am a school teacher and it is very hard to just take a kid out of school. First, you have to know the kid’s name and the teacher’s name, you have to show your ID and the parents or legal guardians have to have given written permission — in person — to the school, as well. Not just anybody can walk in off the street and check a kid out of class.

I told the girl not to worry, that the office wouldn’t just give her to a stranger. The girl said she wasn’t worried for herself, but was concerned about her little sister. “I,” she said, “Am too smart for something like that to happen to me. I am very careful.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “You seem to me to be the type of kid who would talk to a stranger.”

She looked shocked and exclaimed. “I wouldn’t!”

“I think you would,” I said, “You’re talking to me.”

Giving Thanks

For the last several years I have approached Thanksgiving with guilt. It all started in my 5th grade classroom after Thanksgiving one year. Each of us shared how we celebrated and what we ate. One of my students didn’t want to share. We all cajoled and encouraged.

Finally he said:

“We didn’t eat.  We never eat on Thanksgiving. My mom cooks a big meal with lots of food and it smells great — then we package it up and take it to someone who needs it more then we do.  Mom says that’s so we never forget to be grateful everyday.  After we deliver the food, we go home and play games and sing and enjoy our family.  We don’t turn on the TV or the radio. At bedtime dad reads us Bible stories.  It was really hard to go to sleep because I was so hungry, but in the morning mom fixed pancakes for breakfast and we told God how grateful we were to have food.”

They weren’t exactly a Gucci family, either.  Seven kids, two parents and grandma in a three bedroom house.  Whenever I need a lesson in gratefulness I think of them.