My family was not religious. All the same, we celebrated the Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. To us, it was a time for getting family together, doing something different, and having a good time. Plus, we found the Pagan aspects of these holidays to be very fun. Those elements leave the celebration open to everyone.
A little Easter history before I continue:
Eostre is the Germanic goddess of dawn who is celebrated during the Spring Equinox. On the old Germanic calendar, the equivalent month to April was called “Ōstarmānod” – or Easter-month. As a holiday, Easter predates Christianity and was originally the name for Spring Equinox celebrations.
When we were little, we would get a little basket with some colored grass in it. Hidden in the grass were chocolate eggs wrapped in foil, marshmallow peeps, and a hollow chocolate bunny. My dad liked the candy eyes on the bunnies, so he’d open them, eat the eyes, and put it back. Oh yes, he heard from us and knew that we noticed this transgression.
There was also the Easter egg hunt. When I was really young, our parents would hide eggs in the house and have us look for them. It was a fun exercise in looking around to see what was out of place, in an area such as the indoors of our own house, where we took the landscape and scenery for granted.
By the time I was 4, we decided to go to my grandparents’ house. They had about 40 acres of land, and would hide eggs.
After the first year we did that, they noticed that too many eggs were not being eaten and getting thrown away. So my grandparents had the idea of putting dollar amounts on eggs. You could find an egg worth 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, or $1. There were even a few $2 eggs and only one $5 egg.
Grandma loved to give me things like a silver half dollar or a two dollar bill. She knew how much I loved those things.
All of us kids would cash in our eggs for money, and then grandma would use them all right away in some kind of egg salad.
All good things come to an end, which is partially true. The hard fact is that all things come to an end. This is a difficult lesson to teach young children. I really didn’t get in touch with my own mortality, at least on a personal level, until I was 25 years old.
It was Easter of 1973, and I had turned 8 years old the previous December. During the hour-plus drive to grandma’s house, I was having some strange feelings. It was as if I’d rather be at home beating on drums or listening to music.
The hunt for eggs was particularly fun and challenging at grandma’s place, because of the vast area of land they had. The money was also nice, especially the collectible pieces. But something was just off for me.
We get to their farmhouse and run indoors. All of us kids went to the living room to wait for our baskets. By this point, the adults in the room figured out that it’s a good idea to give the smaller kids a head start on the hunt.
The two youngest got their baskets first and were sent out to start their hunt. The parents went outside with them.
The two middle children got their baskets next, and were sent out to join in the hunt.
I had a cousin my age. She had gone outside with her mother earlier. This left me alone in the living room with my grandmother.
“Have I got something special for you,” she said.
Grandma was an audiophile, so she had the latest expensive hi-fi stereo system out there. It was so expensive that I was afraid to touch it. Turntable, amp, quality speakers, and superb headphones.
She had me sit on the organ bench. The organ and hi-fi were both pushed into a cubby, which had a little window out toward the back yard. She then went into her room and came out with a basket.
The basket had some interesting things in it. There were the chocolate eggs wrapped in foil. There was also some money, in the form of a silver half-dollar, a silver dollar, and a $2 bill.
But the biggest thing in the basket, which could not be hidden, was a record. It wasn’t just any record, either. It was The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.
The album had been out for only a few weeks; maybe a month, tops. I took the record out of the sleeve and looked at it. I was in awe.
As grandma lifted the lid, and I put the record on the turntable, she told me how I was probably getting too old for “all of that Easter nonsense,” and that this was her special gift to me as a way of saying that I was growing up and that it was time for me to have different experiences and expectations in life.
I gave grandma a big hug, sat on the organ bench, turned toward the window, and put the headphones on as grandma let the needle drop slowly onto the record.
There I sat, listening to The Dark Side of the Moon for the very first time, while staring out of the window watching the other kids hunt for eggs. A small part of me wanted to join them in the activity, probably so that I would be “in” with a group. It was rare for me to fit in.
But another part of me felt it. I really was growing up. And this record was mine! Before this, I would listen to records my parents owned. This event got me interested in building my own music collection.
It also invigorated my interest in spending time alone. I typically spent my time alone. When I was younger, it was drums, a chalk board, chemistry set, or being outdoors with bugs and animals. But this started my shift more toward having a more serious approach to my musical instruments.
I had a feeling that I was building a newfound appreciation for my alone time.
To this day, I do not know if my younger siblings had a similar experience. If they did, then that would be their story to tell.
For me, my story also highlights the special relationship that I had with my grandmother. When it came to music, she encouraged me greatly.
And when I listen to The Dark Side of the Moon, I cannot help but think of my grandmother as a travel back in time. I can close my eyes, listen, and find myself sitting on that organ bench once again, gazing out the window with wonder as I watched the egg hunt.
The Dark Side of the Moon is an album that means lots of different things to people, depending on their experiences. For me, it’s an Easter album that I can listen to anytime I want. It’s a time machine. It’s an experience.
Every time Easter rolls around, I think of grandma, and the gifts she gave to me. Whether it was a silver half-dollar or a Pink Floyd record, it affected me in ways that are very emotional and personal.
I wasn’t certain how to end this particular entry when I started. However, I actually listened to The Dark Side of the Moon while I was writing this, and I was reminded of something important.
Pink Floyd has recurring themes in their songs and albums. Time is referenced as literal time on this album. They also use the sun and the image of a flowing river to represent time.
Since I was young, their music stood as a constant reminder that time was passing, and that once passed, it would never return again. The river’s course cannot be changed, any more than the sun can be taught to appear first in the west.
The sun is the same, in a relative way, but you’re older, shorter of breath, and one day closer to death.
Today’s Easter will come and go as quickly as any other day. Just like every other day, it is important to be present, pay attention, and live in the moment.
Whatever Easter means to you, whether religious or not, I hope that it’s a day that you can always remember.