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Easter means new outfit because Mama said so

POSTED: April 20, 2014 1:00 a.m.

There were times in my life when my mama said those four words that needed no further explanation: “Because I said so.”

I understood that clearly. The high court had ruled and there was no reason to challenge.

Several things were on the weekly agenda and that’s the way it was. On Saturday night, we put down newspapers on the floor and polished our shoes. We read our Sunday school lesson and put some money out to go in our envelope.

The envelope was a very official thing printed by the Baptist Sunday School Board and you had to check little boxes indicating whether you brought your Bible, read it daily, invited a friend and studied your lesson. If you could check all the boxes, you were 100 percent. That’s a pretty tough order.

A dress shirt and a tie complemented your shined shoes, when you went to the Lord’s house; you needed to look “sharp as a tack.”

But Easter was different.

Usually, by the week before Easter, we went shopping with Mama to buy our Easter outfit. You would wear it several times after Easter, like to a funeral or a wedding, but it became identified as your Easter outfit.

There is a picture of me when I was almost 3. It is the Easter picture of my brother, Dixon, and me. I am wearing a coat and tie and short pants. I am still in white high-top leather shoes that somebody told mama would make my little flat feet better.

Here I am, 51 years later and my feet are still flat as a pie pan. So much for high-top corrective shoes.

Dixon, who was four years older than me, is wearing a suit, his Easter suit. A pair of black-and-white spectator shoes complements it. We are holding our stuffed Easter bunnies. I’m holding mine by the ears. People for the ethical treatment of stuffed animals would cringe.

An Easter outfit never became play clothes. You kept it pristine and wore it on Sundays and special occasions until it wouldn’t fit anymore.

My mother never sent cast-off clothing to charity. There was always a relative somewhere who could use it, or so she thought.

It was tough when it came to my clothes. I was the youngest of my cousins, not to mention the chubbiest. There was no little fat cousin to share my retired Easter wear.

Later in life, Mama would go to a Jewish community center’s rummage sale and buy me suits. I had suits with labels on the inside pocket that stated they were custom made for some guy with a Jewish surname. Mr. Rabinowitz and I must have been ecumenical twins.

Mama has been gone for 17 Easters and I think about her often, especially on holidays. I haven’t really bought an Easter outfit in years, but I will probably dust off my seersucker pants and complements them with a bright tie. When I look in the mirror, I think about how she would run a comb through some water to get my hair to lay down. I only have a daughter and never got to watch a little boy go through this ritual.

One day, if I’m blessed with a grandson, I hope to buy him a coat and tie and I hope he’ll wear it for one good reason.

Because I said so.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.


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