Yesterday was the beginning of the week known as Holy Week in Christianity. I remember this week as a busy one for the women of my Grandma's age group as I was growing up. It was a week filled with Easter preparations, both physical and spiritual. There were special services at our neighborhood church to commemorate the passion of Christ. There was baking to be done. And toward the end of the week, families would gather to dye Easter eggs.
The reason it was a busy week for the Grandmas was because in my neighborhood, the Grams were the ones who did the baking, mostly a rolled nut bread which we called, Potica. I remember watching my Gram, as she shelled pounds of walnuts, then ground them in preparation for making a cooked filling for her potica, which included honey, butter, condensed milk, sugar and lots of time and dedication. My Gram was a short woman who suffered from arthritis, yet she mixed, pounded, rolled and never complained. My memories of her include her smile and her ability to make me always feel welcome around her.
But, I digress. The women of my Gram's demographic, didn't just prepare for Easter in their homes. They prepared our little church, as well. They cleaned and polished everything. This was in addition to all they did in their own homes. My house was directly across the street from the church, so I had a front row seat to see the women come and go during the week. I also saw them as they came with veils over their heads to pray. But one of my clearest memories is of these same women coming to church on Saturday morning before Easter, carrying their baskets containing the foods they would be serving for Easter dinner. This was the blessing of the baskets. I never attended this blessing service and I am sorry now that I never did. But, I remember sitting on my front porch, watching the women who were probably younger than I am now, as they carried their bounty into the church to be blessed by Father Matthew Kebe.
I was reminded of this memory by a dear friend this past week. It seems that though she is a good deal younger than I, she has found a church which still offers this blessing of the food on the Saturday before Easter. It warmed my heart to know that somewhere, someone continues this tradition. And while thinking about it, I was also warmed by memories of Gram. I am grateful for both the reminder and for my friend.