Easter seemed to come early this year.
When I was a kid, waiting for that mysterious rabbit to hippity-hop into my house, Easter seemed to take forever. My brother and I would wake up, and just like a mini Christmas, we’d dash downstairs to find colored baskets full of ecologically unsound plastic grass and a wonderful haul of candy. Jellybeans liberally littered the grass as though the mythic bunny had squatted and dropped a candy load. There were a few chocolate eggs, Pez, a fluffy toy chick wired to the top of the basket, and a gloriously huge chocolate bunny to ensure we really appreciated the bringer of such bounty. A chocolate idol, so to speak.
I remember the smiles on my parents’ faces as they watched us. I remember that they would make it a serious business to choose a jellybean or two when we shared with them. (The black ones were my father’s favorite. My mother liked green and white.)
Like the best holidays, every aspect from then on had some ritual to it. We were allowed to taste but not really dive into the candy. There was a full breakfast eaten and then we got ready for church (absolutely, totally required). My mother would lay out my new Easter outfit including a hat, which was always her choice. While my clothes were tugged on and buttoned, I would eye the chocolate bunny, deciding whether it should be eaten from the top down (ears were of course the best) or from the bottom up (to save the best for last). And should the crunchy candy eyes and carrot go first or last?
During church, with my mother’s and grandmother’s uniquely flat voices singing praises on either side of me (Jesus Christ has risen today! Ha…a…a…ll…lay…lu...ooo…ya!), my thoughts drifted between chocolate, white lilies, and the man up there on the cross. I knew I was supposed to keep my mind on him, but there was all that candy waiting!
Later in the day, the cousins would come. Easter baskets would be compared. My father had a flair for decoration so ours were usually fancier even when the contents were similar. The four of us would go a long way to making ourselves sick on candy, and then we would feast on the ritual ham with scalloped potatoes dinner. Sometimes there was a molded jelly salad which I liked and was complicated enough to make that it only appeared on holidays. After everyone finally left, I would go to sleep with my basket perched on my dresser so that I could see it whenever I opened my eyes.
And then I grew up. My husband always gave me a chocolate bunny at Easter because he totally understood what is important in life. My own kids got a repeat of our experiences (we had crazily similar backgrounds), except that we added a hunt for little chocolate eggs. After several moves we had stopped trying to find a church to attend and there was no family nearby, so the ritual thinned. But the ham and scalloped potatoes still had the savor of a good memory.
There are no kids in my daily life right now. I buy token chocolate bunnies for my adult children, and I devour pictures of my grandsons with their baskets full of their candy eggs and big chocolate bunnies. I’m going to visit shortly, but will miss the egg hunt by four days.
Easter seemed to come so early this year. But I’m willing to extend it. My bag is packed with chocolate eggs and Pez. The calendar date doesn’t matter – the real reason for an Easter celebration is to simply show how much they are loved.