When I was too young to understand anything spoken in church, I asked my big brother why we had Easter. His wise, all-knowing answer was, "Easter holds us over 'til Christmas". And it made perfect sense.
My mother created Easter baskets for us but what I remember most fondly was the finery she outfitted my sister and I in. There were winsome cotton dresses with smocking and sashes or colorful prints of flowers or birds, cotton ankle socks with lace trim, straw hats with excruciatingly tight chin straps, snow-white cotton gloves, and brand new shoes. How I loved the shoes! So much so, that one Easter Eve, a pair slept in their cardboard shrine right next to me in bed. I remember peeking into the box just before sleep, peeling apart the crinkly tissue paper and inhaling the leathery goodness. Our shoes were often shiny black patent with petal cut-outs or dainty t-straps replete with pearl buttons. But sometimes we found the same version in milky white or pale pink.
The most heralded Easter garment however, was the spring coat. Each year on a special Saturday in March, when winter was still biting our toes, my mother would take my sister and I to the big city department store to search for new coats - coats that would have their debut only on Easter Sunday. Formal and lightweight outerwear was not hard to find in those days because everyone had a spring coat back then. They were as ubiquitous as ski jackets in December. The quintessential go-to color was navy and if all else failed, it was the one hue that could be counted on to coordinate with any dress. But more often than not, my mother found pretty pastels for us in nubby weightless wools or sturdy pique cotton with large tone-on-tone buttons.
Along with the coats, we would buy rustling slips and tiny structured grown-up-looking purses to match our shoes.
We gave Easter special honors by dressing as beautifully as could be afforded. Our ensembles were thoughtfully planned, purchased and executed with an excited anticipation that belied a holiday my brother said just came around to hold us over.