Easter Sunday at my grandparents' house in Muncie, Ind., was always a festive affair.
First, my brother and I hunted for sweets hidden under the sofa and behind drapes. We were allowed one chocolate-covered marshmallow bunny before breakfast. Then we quickly got dressed up for church.
I have a photograph of myself, circa 1969, standing stiffly in a turquoise-blue coat my mother made, gloved hands placed demurely in front, patent-leather shoes gleaming in the sun. The perfect Midwestern girl ready for church.
My mother, whose religious beliefs were different from those of her in-laws, must have been wary of visiting their church. She reluctantly dropped off my brother and me at the Sunday School door, as if she feared teachers might try to convert us.
Each year, the children watched a movie about the Crucifixion. The film was long and we were too small to absorb its meaning completely. We couldn't wait to get outside and back into the light. The teachers gave each child a potted begonia - reward, as I saw it, for having sat through the film.
The ride home was quiet, as we contemplated Jesus' sacrifice and tried not to squish our plants. I was too young then to grasp the larger message of hope and renewal that Easter brings, but I do remember feeling cherished by my family's love.
My grandmother's smile was worth having to wear a stiff dress and tight shoes.
And the begonia bloomed in my favorite shade of pink.
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