The boxes have only been moved once or twice since I inherited them. My grandparents took thousands of slides during their life, but most of them were of their travels. While they were neatly catalogued, most were of unnamed churches and flowering plants from around the world. They were neat, but no one in the family really wanted any of them beyond the few that actually had people in the scene.
It had probably been over 30 years since any of the pictures had even been viewed on a slide projector. I was amazed that one of the two projectors I had still worked. I frankly dreaded the project of examining each picture to decide to either throw them away or have them scanned for posterity. After all, no one sits around to watch slide shows anymore.
I found a treasure within the slides within 30 minutes of starting my long delayed project. These particular slides were loose within two or three separate boxes. Very few had faded and the colors were as vibrant as when they had been taken.
Dating back 60 years, I had stumbled upon pictures of Ernest, my brother, and myself taken every Easter. Later our younger sister made her appearance in the pictures, always wearing an Easter hat and a frilly dress in front of blooming azaleas.
I recall Easter as a young kid. We had to get up extra early to hunt the real eggs that had been hidden by the Easter Bunny the night before. Every couple of years, we might miss finding an egg only to discover it a few days later when it started to smell behind the leg of a sofa or in some other good hiding place.
We then had to get dressed. We did not like this part too much because we had to put on a tie and coat. My sister had to wear a hat, so at least the boys got off easy on that part of the attire.
We would head to our grandparents’ house which was across the street from the First Baptist Church that we attended. In my memory, the azaleas seemed to always be in full bloom at Easter, a fact confirmed as I reviewed the slides. It was if my Grandmother was in charge at Augusta during the Masters. The flowers would bloom when she wanted them to because she said so.
We took the pictures in front of the same azalea bush year after year. The stream of pictures did not just catalog our growth and changing fashion, but also the dogs that might be around at the time. I have not thought of Brownie in years, until I saw him in several of the pictures, posing patiently with us for the pictures to be taken.
Years later, my own young family started the same tradition. We have Easter pictures taken when our first born was just a few months old. Year after year, we took pictures of our girls, often with their Easter hats on their heads and their little frilly white dresses. Catherine did not mind the hats, but Elizabeth truly hated putting anything on her head. After a few years, the effort just wasn’t worth it, and the hats began to disappear from the pictures.
As thankful as I am to re-discover these pictures of my past, I am also reminded that I was raised in a home that celebrated Easter. It was not just about eggs, and clothes and a big fancy meal; I was raised with an awareness of the fact that Jesus died on the cross for me and that He arose again. I believe that He is waiting for me while sitting on the right hand of God the Father.
We will not be with our children or grandchildren this Easter. But I know they will be in church, celebrating Easter, God’s grace, and the promise of eternal life. If, or when, I receive a picture of our grandchildren in their finest this Easter Sunday, I will add it to my new collection of Easter pictures that spans five generations and give thanks to God for His faithfulness to our family these many years.
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]