(I wrote this yesterday, Easter Sunday)
My husband forwarded me via Whatsapp on Thursday the Easter promo of the hotel we are checking into for the holiday weekend. Face painting, egg hunting, magic show, arts and crafts. ‘Sounds good’, I texted him back, almost automatically, as I was in the middle of something. When I found myself a moment, I ran through the list of activities again — elaborate, expensive, instagrammable — and suddenly found myself being taken back to the more simple Easters of my childhood in the 1980s.
We spent our early years in an apartment in Paco, the same place my mom and her siblings grew up in. It was a house with doors that creaked with age, drawers that groaned with the weight of forgotten odds and ends, walls that held sepia-hued graduation photos from the 60s and the 70s, and a 5-square meter laundry area we all optimistically called the Little Garden. When you looked up towards the ceiling, you would see yellowed balls attached to wooden beams: the result, we were told, of a game my uncles used to play as irrepressible boys, where wet cottonballs would be thrown high up in the air to get as many stuck to the ceiling as possible. My brother and sister and I, we spent the earliest years of our lives in that house with the smugness and softness of unquestionably loved children. Love was the abiding truth of our childhood, and in many ways, the love in that house was a blanket that was flung over us to protect us and insulate us from the vagaries of the world.
Easter was always a festive occasion. My Mom’s younger sister, Auntie Boots, designated herself to be our Easter Bunny. She was, however, terrible at keeping secrets and hiding things. Weeks before Easter Sunday, we would start sniffing around for the plastic egg cases that would hold little pieces of candy. They would always be in one of two hiding places: in the small storage room where the ironing board was kept, or in my great grand-aunt’s room, in the wooden cabinet that hid reams of white bond paper and other wonderful things. We peeked at the candies during Holy Thursday and Good Friday, making deals to trade, planning how to spread them out so they would last the summer. Then Easter Sunday rolled in. After the Sunday mass, the big hunt commenced. My aunt made riddles that needed to be solved and elaborate maps that needed to be deciphered. When you find one egg, the clue for the next egg would be inside in, and so on. I loved it! When we were done, we all gathered together, showed off our loot, and then received our “big” Easter gifts. Which was maybe a Nancy Drew book for me, a Bobbsey Twins book for my brother, a stuffed toy for my sister.
My son and other kids of his generation will spend Easter Sunday in gleaming malls and big hotels, while their parents will partake of commercialized Easter brunches in tastefully-decorated spreads. It is certainly more convenient, anyhow. I already know I probably do not have it in me to make elaborate maps and mind-boggling riddles (and while we are at it, homemade Halloween costumes and daily themed bento boxes). But — and this is what I also realized today, amidst the wistful nostalgia washing over me — memories of our own happy childhoods are not there to shame the parents we now are. Rather, they are wells that we draw from, infinite and self-replenishing, so that whether our children take part in a mall-organized egg hunt or find themselves hunched over an elaborate DIY easter treasure map at home, love in its purest and clearest form becomes the abiding truth of their childhood.