Here comes Peter Cottontail and several other Easter traditions that cause me to stammer, stall, and steal away to Wikipedia when the children ask me what Jesus going to Heaven and Peeps have in common. (Thank you, Interwebs.)
The company I work for participates annually in the United Way’s “Be a Bunny” program which plans on collecting and distributing 1,800 Easter baskets throughout our community this year. Here’s a tidbit from United Way’s website:
“The goal of the United Way “Be a Bunny” program is to provide Easter Baskets, filled with goodies and personal items, to children from low-income families, children with special needs, and senior citizens identified by area nonprofit organizations.”
As long as nobody expects me to reconcile the varied ways in which we celebrate the spring holiday, I’m happy to provide a deserving child with an Easter basket.
When I went to Target this afternoon, I was overwhelmed by all the…Easter. Rows and rows of pastel, chocolate, plastic, Princess, made-in-China Easter. I’m prone to getting rather overwhelmed when surrounded by aisles of unnecessary plastic objects, which is why I do not frequent Wal-Mart unless I have a gift card. First I perused the row of pre-arranged baskets. They were chock full of Phineas and Ferb, Dora, and Sponge Bob Easter fun, but the thought of introducing Disney and Nickolodeon to the already-confusing holiday rituals made me keep walking. I wanted to fill this deserving child’s basket with goodness. How does one do that? Where can one buy wholesome, happy, goodness and tuck it in a wicker basket? Sigh. I reined in my idealism.
When I was a kid, I remember Easter by the smell of vinegar and hard boiled eggs and the sight of vibrantly-colored dye fizzing in coffee mugs. I remember marathon egg hunts in our back yard. Sometimes our two dogs found the eggs before we did, which was a bit disappointing. I think my mom always had an extra stash in the fridge just in case. I remember looking forward to taking inventory of my basket when I discovered it on the dining room table at breakfast. We were allowed to eat a couple of treats before we went to church. We were allowed to bring a few goodies with us, as long as they weren’t wrapped in noisy plastic. I remember Easter dresses and white sandals. My favorite dress was one my mother made for me when I was about Poppy’s age. It was red and white with strawberries around the collar. I remember eating lightly stained and salty boiled eggs for lunch that day and every day after that for at least a week. I remember warm afternoons spent lying in the hammock noticing the daffodills and fruit trees. Goodness.
Perhaps I remember events of my youth with rose-colored glasses. I’m sure I do. There must have been plastic and excess and tchotchkes in the 1970’s, right? The fact that I don’t remember it that way means that either my mom was very good at disguising them or they were there all along and I just didn’t notice. The baubles and knickknacks were not the takeaways. Perhaps they were simply a means to an end. A reason to gather around the table as a family to create the memories that rise to the surface so many years later.
Yes, it is quite possible that I overthought this whole Easter basket task. With time ticking away and me breaking out into a cold sweat, I decided to make a mental compromise. I chose not to focus on the kitsch and instead thought about the happy memories I hoped the young recepient of my basket would make this Easter with his own family. Maybe he will share some of the Jelly Bellys with his little sister. Maybe he will toss the Nerf football with his dad. Maybe it will make his mama happy that her little boy got a little extra something all his own this holiday. Maybe. And even if none of those things happen, that’s the way I’d lilke to remember it.