Back then, it was all about the shoes. The black patent leather ones were placed at the back of the closet, and the new shoe box sat patiently on the floor. Every now and then, I’d take off the lid of the box and stare inside — proud as I could be of those new white, shiny shoes.
Oh we didn’t care much about the lacy dress. No, if we had our druthers, a dress wouldn’t have been in our closet. And then there was the bonnet and the white gloves. We couldn’t stand either one. Like the dress, we detested the bonnet and short white gloves just as much.
But the shoes ... oh, yes, the shoes. We dearly loved those new Easter shoes — perhaps even more than those hollow chocolate bunnies in our Easter basket.
We didn’t get new shoes very often. No, we learned to take care of the shoes we had, and as much as those Hush Puppies in the local shoe store shouted at us from the big picture window or the red ballerina shoes called our name, we knew those were nothing more than pipe dreams. No. They would never live in our closets.
Instead, our everyday shoes consisted of black and white saddle shoes and a white pair of Keds that lived at school for gym class and came home in the summer. Other than those basics, we had the black patent leathers for church in the fall and winter and the white ones for spring and summer. Four pairs of shoes. End of story.
Basically, we got shoes when school started, and that was it — unless of course our feet grew — oh, how we prayed for that. The only other time for new shoes was right before Easter. We’d hop into the car and hope like heck the white shoes wouldn’t be available in our sizes, so we’d have to resort to the red ones ... it never happened.
Easter morning was typical for a ’60s family. We’d jump out of bed and immediately discover treats delivered by that magical rabbit — candies, jump ropes, jacks, bubbles, a paddle with a little red ball attached to it ... Breakfast consisted of hard-boiled eggs, which ironically looked like the same eggs we had colored the day before ...?
With threats of “No more candy!” echoing in our ears, it was almost time. We’d put on those new Easter dresses, the Easter bonnets and the pristine, white gloves. And then it was time ... it was what we had been waiting for ... Yes. It was all about the shoes. With a little help with a stiff strap and a stiffer gold buckle, we’d dance around the house in those new shoes ... proud, happy and excited!
I was thinking about those new shoes the other day, and something hit me ... and I don’t mind telling you it hit me hard. As I think back, I can remember those new Easter outfits, the bonnets, and of course, the shoes ... little kids looking like the ones you’d see in catalogs ... spit-shined and picture perfect.
But here’s what I don’t remember: Adults in my house with new shoes, new Easter clothes, new anything ... not even a darn, hollow chocolate rabbit.
And the reason I don’t remember it? Because they didn’t have them. No. There might have been money for us to get those new shoes, but there certainly wouldn’t have been enough money for the adults in my house to get them, too.
Instantly, my heart hurt for their sacrifices ... probably just one in a line of many things the adults in my house did to ensure we’d have what we needed, regardless of their own needs. They made sacrifices all my life, and to this day, I’ll always be humbled by their actions ... grateful, too.
Sacrifices. At Easter time, I always think of the ultimate sacrifice told to us in the Easter story ... a Father, a Son and an opportunity for everlasting life. Are we humbled? Grateful, too?
Easter. No doubt a day filled with wonderful spring clothes, chocolate bunnies and treats galore. But this year when Easter approaches, I’d like to ask you to do what I’m going to do ... and that’s to remember ...
It might not just be about the shoes anymore.
BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.