“A Different Kind of Easter,” April 7, 2020

This is an Easter story. I first told it 20 years ago, but it’s still true. And truth bears repeating, now and always. Here it is.

I don’t need new shoes for Easter. But there was a time when I thought I did. Maybe I just wanted them. Is “want” so different from “need”?

The best thing about the small Southern town where I grew up — aside from its peaches, its views of the mountains and its interesting assortment of characters — was that it seldom let any of us feel truly poor.

A lot of us were, in fact, poorer than the red dirt beneath our feet. We lived, as my mother said, hand to mouth, from one mill paycheck to the next. But the families that were well off never flaunted their wealth nor allowed their children to do so.

We all went to the same school, played the same games and ate the same fried chicken in the cafeteria. We had most of what we needed, some of what we wanted and little awareness of anything we lacked.

On Easter Sunday, most folks went to church, rich and poor, saints and sinners alike. The difference, as I saw it, when I was 8 years old, was simple: Some wore new shoes, and some wore old, and we all tried to pretend we didn’t notice.

I sat in church that Easter Sunday dangling my legs from the pew, staring at my old shoes that my mother had tried to clean up with a coat of polish. They weren’t just old. They were ugly. I promised myself, next Easter, I would be wearing brand new, good-looking shoes.

Want to know how I kept that promise? I lied. I’m not proud of it, but there it is. I told my daddy my mama said I needed new shoes for Easter. She didn’t say it, but probably thought it. Ever since their divorce, if she said I needed something, he’d try his best to get it. The look on his face when he paid for those shoes told me they cost a fortune. But they were worth it –white patent leather with silver buckles. And the clerk threw in a pair of frilly socks. I wore them to church that Easter Sunday feeling fancy and free, saved by the blood of Jesus and a brand new pair of shoes.

Then my feet started to hurt. A little. Then a lot. I had blisters on both heels and all ten toes. After church, we went to my grandparents’ house for Easter dinner. My mother wouldn’t let me hunt eggs with my cousins because she said I’d ruin my new shoes. I didn’t argue. My feet were already ruined.

But the next day I smuggled the new shoes to school (I hid them in my sweater to get past my mother) and put them on before class. We played tag at recess and I was “it” the whole time because I couldn’t limp fast enough to tag anybody.

Then at lunch, I sat next to a friend who was wearing, I swear, a pair of old sneakers with holes in the toes. They were three sizes too big and smelled like her older brother. She kept staring at my new shoes and the longer she stared, the more my feet hurt.

By the time I got home, I never wanted to see those shoes again, let alone, wear them. I finally gave them to my cousin Bad Linda, who wore them unbuckled because they were too small, and nagged me until I gave her the frilly socks.

I learned several lessons that Easter. First, salvation is like true wealth. It’s not about what folks see when they look at you; it’s about what’s in your heart.

Second, if you’re going to lie to your daddy about something your mama said, you’d best be sure he never talks to her.

Finally, no matter how good you look or how fancy you feel, if the shoe doesn’t fit — if it hurts your feet or your friend –you’ll be happier without it.

I don’t need new shoes for Easter. But soon? I hope we’ll all get new shoes that won’t hurt our feet and we’ll go out dancing together, hallelujah, like we have never danced before.

Comments

  1. Nancy Willoughby says:

    That is my very favorite of all your columns!
    Thanks for sharing it with us again.

  2. Kate Sciacca says:

    Oh my…. the blisters started rubbing with that story… except it wasn’t Easter – it was the boy’s wedding last August. Shiny new glittery shoes that matched my glittery dress. Perfect. Gorgeous. Painful beyond all telling. I managed to smile at all the guests walking up the aisle, but flipped those things off the minute my derrière hit the pew. Baby sister saw me throw them off – and gave me a look worse than mom would have given. Told her there was no way I’d keep those torture instruments on my feet all night – “you HAVE to! You’re the mother of the groom!” She could see I meant it… and somehow, between the Church and the Country Club, she managed to pick up a comfy pair of glittery sandals… Her boy is tying the knot next September- I owe her one… or a pair 😉

  3. Sheila says:

    What a cute story! I can only imagine your misery!
    Sadly, we won’t be needing new Easter shoes or new dresses this year since we will all be at home. But we can still celebrate Christ’s resurrection in our homes, probably watching online Easter services across the nation. We are the church…not the building.
    May your family be untouched by this horrible COVID-19! Our daughter is a labor & delivery nurse & I pray for her protection throughout each day. God bless & protect our health care hero’s.
    Have a blessed Easter. 💕🌷💕

  4. Jeannette Buck says:

    OHHH yeah and Ohh yeah!

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