Monday, March 29, 2010
Spring in My Step
As I have mentioned in other posts, my relatives in St. Marys, PA, are all about celebrating holidays. I do not know why this area of the country should be so into holidays, but it is, and so am I.
In St. Marys, people will exhibit outdoor holiday decorations just about every month of the year, not just during the Christmas season. For example, when I was travelling through the area at the end of January 2009, I saw outdoor decorations for Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, the Steelers (who would go on to win the Super Bowl that weekend), and more than a few leftovers from Christmas. (Hey, it’s cold up there, and you can’t blame some people if they are reluctant to risk their lives against killer falling icicles just to take down their string lights.)
Now, anyone can put up a seasonal house or garden flag. But in St. Marys, we saw a house with a glowing red heart in every single window. My husband said, “Hmmm, things are starting to make sense.” Now he knows why I fret when Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year, and the Olympics occur on the same day. Now he has more sympathy for my earring crack habit.
I probably have 300 pairs of earrings, but I haven’t counted in years. It’s hard to count when I’m likely to use Christmas ornaments, wine glass charms, Monopoly pieces, or paper clips in a pinch. It’s all part of my quest to have earrings for every occasion. My Holy Grail is guillotine earrings for Bastille Day. I saw them in a magazine during the French Bicentennial in 1989 and have quested to obtain them ever since. Sure, I have Eiffel Towers, but those are for amateurs. I cannot pretend to represent my birthplace or hope to honor the memory of my deceased relatives with those!
Yes, my deceased aunts and uncles look over my shoulder and whisper in my ear whenever I come close to not properly celebrating a holiday. This St. Patrick’s Day, even though I attended a parade on the weekend, they would not be satisfied if I hadn’t celebrated the real St. Paddy’s Day on the following Wednesday. Even though I made sure to wear green underwear just in case the Holiday Police came after me with pincers in yoga class that evening, the spirits of my holiday-loving relatives would not let me rest until I brought my fatigued sitting bones into an overcrowded Irish pub for a pint among friends.
Now, it is two weeks later, and Easter is nigh. Eastertime in my adult life has often brought feelings of unease and inadequacy, as I have not been able to celebrate in the ways that I imagine would please the hovering spirits of my ancestors. There are no trees on the so-called lawn of my townhouse, so I can’t hang multi-colored plastic eggs from the branches, as my mom did for so many years (often going so far as to hide tiny trinkets inside for the neighbor kids to break open and find). I don’t eat hard-boiled eggs, so it seems somewhat wasteful to buy dozens for coloring, especially since I don’t have any kids to entertain. But, you see, in St. Marys, egg-coloring was not an activity reserved for the kiddies. The kids may have been an excuse to throw an egg-coloring party, but the adults were always in on the fun.
Among my family, Aunt Pat was the master, an artiste. Mothra Stewart, step aside. Claude Monet, take a seat. Faberge? Ain’t no way. Aunt Pat ruled the roost. Her eggsquisite ouevres were always the last to be eaten because they were so beautiful and unique that you just wanted to display them as long as possible for everyone to behold.
Here in the South, egg-coloring means lamely dunking an egg into a vinegar bath of one of four plain pastel colors. Creativity means double-dunking to get purple from pink and blue. Like, wow. Gag me with an octagonal copper wire and I will vomit a perfect pastel rainbow.
In St. Marys, we had cool coloring kits that encouraged creativity. They definitely did NOT include little pre-fab stickers. They did include little vials of dye in vibrant colors with Q-tip looking applicators. For delicate details, we used toothpicks. If you screwed up and the dye dripped outside of its intended lines, you could always just dawb some more droplets on the egg, blow on them, and render a splotchy, Technicolor tie-dye eggsplosion. The imperfection of a cracked eggshell was not a calamity to hide from the neighbors but an opportunity for a tweenage boy to transform into a gruesome bloodshot eyeball that would later be served on a plate to his poor, unsuspecting little sister.
But as I said, this particular little sister isn’t fond of eating hard-boiled eggs, however cleverly they are colored. Nevertheless, I have found a way to alleviate my guilt at least partially by celebrating Easter with my own creative tradition. Instead of eggs, I paint my toenails. Each little one is a different springy hue, and the big ones get stripes or polka dots or some other colorful design. None of them approaches the eggstraordinary brilliance of an Aunt Pat masterpiece, but they’re still the most festive focal point in yoga class, where I’m proud to point them skyward for my holiday-loving, heavenly homies to behold.