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I have grown old enough to no longer recognize myself in the spaces that claimed me for my youngest years. But they keep claiming me.
My godmother still buys me Easter dresses and Easter hats. I obligingly don them, and, on parade, am still shown off in my Easter get-up. My daughter, new to this old tradition, is also dressed and hatted.
My godmother frowns at my lack of sentimentality, which is how she refers to my disinterest in being dressed up. I frown back, because I fail to see it the same way.
Greek Easter has been marked these last few years by the signs of age on the whole old crew and a deep sense of avoidance about it. We all know that I am no longer the child I was, and that they have aged around me accordingly. But the masquerade of my youth keeps on, in a new dress.
And the newest dressee–my child–makes the curious nostalgia all the more obvious: Our roles are all changing, must change, around her.
For as long as I can remember Easter has been marked by the hands of my godmother, dyed red. The wrinkled creases in her hands grow deeper with marooned cracks as she has grown older, her knuckles, crimson and bulbous, are now swollen with arthritis. These are not the hands I used to know. Indeed the only thing that is the same about them is the dye left on them from the religious scarleting of the eggs that we clack together in memory of a risen lord.
We say it again and again and we smack eggs until all small ends and large ends in the room are broken, excepting one. And this untarnished egg end and the hand that holds it, receive the year’s blessing.
Last Greek Easter, after many years of unlucky smashed eggs I was left the blessed victor, egg intact.
And, a few weeks away from our ritual egg smashing, it seems important to reflect on what blessing has looked like. Reflections on the good things in life are perhaps the simplest ways to drive me from the shuttlecocked anxiety of meeting the expectations of both worlds that demand my full presence (home and school). And tonight is a night that I feel the need to press myself in to just such a reminder.
Under the blessing of a red-egged year our home has grown, as well as the number of people and animals we nest within it. Our garden has flourished. And all this growth is getting on just swimmingly together. We laugh frequently. My husband has learned to match (my) socks. Our libraries are amazing. I love teaching and I love what I teach. I love learning, and sometimes love what I learn. We always, and often in ways that surprise me, seem to have exactly what we need. My body, which has battled the systemic bents of food allergies and endometriosis, feels well. Well. Sometimes I have enough time to brush my teeth or to think about going home again, to clack eggs together.
And in two weeks time, we will mark another red handed (and egged) year, flung and passing. We will be drawn again to the ceremonies, spaces and tastes of my childhood- the living memory, the ritual, of a family that sees each other too infrequently, but knows, when it has nested down together for a few days of white flowers, rich food and red eggs, that there remains a consensus about ideas like “family.” And “home.”