By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
To those who will celebrate the holiday Sunday, I say: Happy Easter. And to my Jewish readers, I hope you have had a joyous Passover, which began Wednesday at sunset.
Easter, as longtime readers know, is my favorite holiday — and in these difficult times, the natural beauty and the celebratory spirit that accompany Easter means even more to me.
While we are blessed in Palm Beach with year-round beauty, I’m thinking of gardens up north, where spring’s reawakening brings with it lots of color -- lilac-colored hyacinths -- and lilacs, themselves -- along with yellow daffodils, pink tulips and all those cherry blossoms.
While the spring holidays this year mean many of us are staying indoors, doing our part to help each other stay safe, I think we are all looking forward to the days ahead. And this week, I’m also thinking about happy memories of Easters past.
Growing up, Easter to me meant celebrating the Resurrection, so my sister, Vivian, and I always attended the Congregational Church on Broad Street in Lynn, Massachusetts.
We always were dressed for the occasion — my sister in a new colorful dress and shoes and, of course, a hat for the Easter parade after church. I, too, had my new go-to-church suit. One year I remember that outfit included knickers and long socks and I donned a hat by the haberdashers Adam. I know some will remember the TV commercial, “I go for a man who wears an Adam hat!” Adam hats were the sign of many a stylish man.
Easter service was followed by a family lunch in a dining room with fresh flowers on the table. For me, decorating at Easter meant creating a memorable tablescape. I carefully consider the table cloth, the napkins, the china, the place cards, the centerpiece (or perhaps pieces when the table is large).
So how might I make a tabletop sing? I might use a pink tablecloth, spicy mint-green napkins and arrangements of daffodils and multi-colored tulips lined up and down the center of the table. Then I might scatter some robin’s-egg blue eggs on the table amid the flowers.
I also think about the meal to be served during one of the most colorful seasons of the year. Who wants plain mashed potatoes, cauliflower and vanilla ice cream for dessert? These no-color items do not say Easter to me.
So my menu might include pineapple-topped baked ham, rich candied yams and French-cut green beans with almonds. And what about scalloped potatoes with a crispy golden-brown top? For dessert, my favorites are a lemon meringue pie topped with candied lemons or a coconut cake sprinkled with colorful jelly beans.
Easter to me is all about the colors of the springtime garden, and this year in particular I would find joy in having my table look the prettiest it has ever been.
One of my Florida friends, the artist Nancy Reeser of St. Petersburg, tells me in these days of solitude for fun she is looking forward to dressing up for Easter, because one can still enjoy a festive holiday, even if staying at home. Nancy always sets the table to the nines with silver and crystal, and she herself is complete with jewels and the perfect Easter outfit.
This is certainly the season to look forward to our reawakening, once these hard days are behind us.