Shinazy’s family Easter Nest tradition
My mother loves the pageantry of holidays and celebrates with couture runway flair. In my youth, when Easter approached, she would start the search for the next new outfit; for me it was time for another magical visit to the ancestral homestead in Colma.
Every year when the daffodils emerged from the dirt, I knew we would soon be shopping for the perfect dresses, bonnets, gloves, and shoes. My two younger sisters and I – life size ‘Russian nesting dolls’ – would wait, hands folded in our laps, while shop ladies scurried about to find three identical suitable Easter dresses.
Although we did this every year, I only remember wishing that this year’s frock would be long enough to cover the scabs and bruises on my tomboy knees. These shopping trips ended with the purchase of black patent leather strapped shoes called Mary Jane. (I secretly called my shoes Sally, in honor of my former imaginary friend who moved away once my sisters were old enough for me to boss – but that’s another story.)
The purpose of these outfits was that we looked stylish for the Easter Parade, the annual spring photo shoot at my grandmother’s – Pauline, aka Gigs.
Before I was born, Uncle George decided that Easter needed more than just baskets and eggs sitting on the dining room table. One year he returned from the yard with an armful of weeds that he lovingly arranged on the table; this was the start of my family’s Easter Nest. When my generation increased in size, the nest moved to the front porch, where Aunt Judy decorated it with daffodils.
Every year, my sisters, brother, cousins, and I would stand in single file waiting for Gigs to adjust the focus and light meter on her cameras. We would then parade past the Easter Nest, then pose around the nest, then pose with our baskets, then pose, and pose. These movies and photos memorialize a tradition – a time in a family’s history – our Easter Parade.
When my daughter was old enough to understand that the Easter Bunny delivered sugary goods and multicolored eggs, I continued the Easter Nest custom, sans, the clothes shopping excursion. We lived in an apartment and had no lawn to mow or weeds to pull for the supply of nest building material; so coworkers would provide garbage bags filled with freshly cut green clippings. The front door landing became the site for our first Easter Nest. Some of my favorite holiday pictures of my daughter and son are the Easter Nest photos.
The Shinazy clan has produced another generation of wide-eyed cherub faces to smile at the wonder of the Easter Nest. Although we no longer live within 20 miles of each other, continuing the tradition keeps the family connected and our stories carry on.
photo by danielle & shinazy
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