Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Look at a "Vintage" Easter

 I came to love the old vintage post cards during those long summer days spent up north at my grandparents' Michigan farm house, the one sitting so high up on a hill that running down the steep slope from front door to lower basement often felt more like falling than running, as if at any moment, my legs may be unable to keep up so that I would stumble and keep right on rolling until I hit bottom by the apple tree where the corn grew tall.

Many an afternoon, my Grandma and I sat inside the house with its exposed beams and rustic cathedral ceiling built long before that was the trend.  I would sit by the chimney made from rounded river stones hand set in gray mortar and watch as she pulled out binders filled with plastic sleeves containing post cards for all seasons, each addressed with a perfect cursive penmanship long lost in our era.

My father was the intended audience, not the child me, but still, I watched in eager wonder as she and my father carefully withdrew some of the more rare cards from the pages, delicately held them as if they might disintegrate at any moment.

Of course, the ones I always loved most were the rare, expensive ones with "perfect corners," not something one would give a girl who still had to be told to pick up her room. However, Grandma did give me one depicting a heart made completely of purple violets.  In its center was a head shot of a Victorian woman, brown hair up swept in ladylike beauty. She was beautiful.

Throughout my childhood and long after I married, that postcard stayed in the top drawer with all the other important papers. Even now, I have never lost my fascination with those post cards, a trademark of love and remembrance from days gone by.

Two years ago, I found people had started scanning in these postcards from the 1920s and '30s and either posting them online or selling them on a CD.  Though they didn't have the same feel or the beautiful sentiments written on the back, their images still reminded me of summers with my Grandma.

So, I printed dozens of the old cards on card stock, cut and matted each one before adding thin ribbon to make them ornaments on my Valentines Day tree.  My children fell in love with the simple, hand-drawn images as much as I had when younger.

I intended to do the same for our Easter tree, but as any parent  knows well, the unnecessary tends to remain undone.  This Spring, a full two years later, I finally collected scanned-in images of enough Easter postcards. 
As I cut and pasted the cards on screen to print, I was amazed at the differences I noted between Easter then and now.  Not quite a century separated us, but the chasm was wide and deep.    
Whereas our Easter is ruled by bunnies, I was hard pressed to find many images of rabbits, and when I did, most were of actual (pretty ugly) rabbits, not the Easter Bunny or any other cute, cartoon-like creature.

However, what I did keep coming across were image after image of plush baby chicks, fragrant blossoms, and Christian images.  Images of churches, Christ, and the cross were available in great supply.  And even when some Christian symbol was absent, many times, the card's simple verse mentioned the true meaning of Easter.  One even sported a watercolor of Jesus on the dusty road to Emmaus.

Back in the '20s and '30s, most people would have raised their own chickens, making this a symbol of rebirth most people would have understood.   And Christ?  He was still the center of Easter.
Last month, I added those paper ornaments to branches laden with pastel-colored eggs and bright, sparkly butterflies. Though our world has changed, has transformed Easter into "Spring Break," our household chooses to retain a "vintage" understanding of the season. 

Christ's sacrifice on the cross, His resurrection from the dead--back then, the people knew that this was the reason for Easter.  Even if they chose to not serve Him, they knew.

Now? Our present-day society may try to bury the true reason for the season under a mountain of plastic eggs, plush rabbits, new dresses, and chocolate, but still, in our heart of hearts, we awaken on Easter morning knowing this is Easter.  And Easter is about Christ.

May we who love Him never forget.  Let us always remember His sacrifice and triumph over sin and death, above all else.

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