This year, a wreath of pastel eggs and rustic foliage crowns the hutch. On the shelves are dessert plates – yellow, green, blue, pink – each with a raised impression of running bunnies, chasing each other around the rims. For contrast, my daughter’s ceramic café plate in pomegranate red stands up next to the wreath. In her handwriting, the plate reads, “Laugh until your heart overflows…” Opposite that, in the exact red, is a jaunty straw hat perched, tilting, on a milk bottle. In one corner a fluffy ball of white wool fashioned to look like a lamb wobbles on four little stick legs, not the same length. A while ago the lamb fell to its side.
It’s a charming tableau of Spring sprung, new life, new beginnings, rose buds, the end of winter. There’s only one problem.
The roses have been full-blown for at least a month. I’ve deadheaded them twice.
So what’s with theme decorating? Why is it in our lives? In my case I know it comes directly from my mother, Maxine. She was queen of her household in the peak of post-war homemaking with Better Homes & Gardens dictating the height of best practices – a term that had not yet been articulated. Mother had a long, curved white sectional couch and a closet with an array of throw pillows for every season. Pastel for spring, bold brights for summer, amber and avocado for fall and, of course, red and gold for Christmas. Not only the couch pillows, but the items on her hutch, the figurines on the end tables, the trinkets in the kitchen window – these would change each season with strict precision. No white shoes after Labor Day? Ha! That’s child’s play. The rules go much deeper than that.
The year Maxine died it was rough at the end. My sisters and I stayed at her house while she lingered at a nearby hospital. She was on life support for weeks. Then, after we turned off life support she continued to hang on for 10 days, breathing seven times each minute. Time it for yourself – eternity between each breath.
When she finally breathed her last on June 13, there was a whirlwind of planning the perfect funeral, writing notices, arranging for flowers, creating a display of photographs and her quilts, accommodations for out of town guests, the luncheon afterward. Days flew by. We pulled it all off and finally headed home, exhausted. I walked in the front door and burst into tears. Loud. Hysterical.
“What’s wrong?” my husband asked.
I lifted a tear-stained face.
“I haven’t put away Easter yet. Mom would be horrified.”
So, now, over ten years later, it’s June and Easter is still up and I am filled with dread. My sister is coming in two days. I have to change the hutch…