Since Easter is this Sunday that means that tomorrow is Good Friday; a day which is followed by Holy Saturday (Today incidentally is Strongly Agree Thursday). Good Friday is the day that not only marks the death of Jesus Christ, but is also the inspiration for the casual dining restaurant concept T.G.I.G. Friday (Thank God It’s Good Friday) This shouldn’t be confused with other fine dining establishments and family-style chains with names inspired by religiously significant ecclesiastical holidays or books from the Old Testament such as I.H.O.P. (International House of Passover) or Applebee’s (A name which symbolizes how Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden after being tempted by the Devil in serpent form to eat the forbidden Spinach and Artichoke Dip) Be careful folks. These collection plates are hot.
As mentioned above, this Saturday is known as Holy Saturday and marks the final day of Lent. Lasting 40 days to represent the time Jesus spent in the dessert enduring temptation by Satan, Lent is a time for followers to demonstrate their own faith through prayer, penitence and by abstaining from things like coffee, soda, red meat, alcohol and foods high in carbohydrates and saturated fats; basically the entire Applebee’s menu or the building blocks of James Gandolfini’s food pyramid. (If you’re still having trouble completely cleansing your soul of that unsightly sin and temptation I recommend using a Lent Brush.)
For those calendar watchers it’s important to point out that the six Sundays in Lent are not counted as part of the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” and a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death (Hey Jesus you just won an Epic Battle of Good vs. Evil against the Devil. What are you going to do now?)
Finally, Sunday is Easter and what better way to observe the most important religious holiday in the Christian liturgical year than to tell children that while they’re sleeping a narcissistic anthropomorphic rabbit will bring them a basket filled with candy and solid milk chocolate versions of himself. For me, rabbits and bunnies are a fine choice if they’re sipping Mimosa’s in the Grotto at the Playboy Mansion avoiding eye contact with Hugh Heffner until the Viagra wears off, pacing greyhounds at the dog track, testing which shade of eye shadow complements the Cover Girl Whispering Pink Lip Gloss they’re wearing, returning lost penguins to the South Pole or even serving as the base for a tasty stew but not as the widely accepted symbol of Easter. Also, when my kids want candy I make them get it the old-fashioned way, by dressing up in costumes and going door to door with old pillow cases.
When I was younger the “Easter Bunny” always seemed to take great pleasure in hiding my Basket so effectively that by the time I found it concealed beneath the floorboards (with help from the parental GPS of my day, “You’re getting warmer Billy…warmer…listen for the heartbeat…” and a team of police dogs) my brother and sister were already gnawing the ears off a second chocolate bunny. (It’s a fact that when a chocolate bunny loses its sense of hearing the taste of its other senses are enhanced) I attribute the lasting emotional scars from these protracted searches and the absence of loose floorboards in our home as the primary reasons the “Easter Bunny” doesn’t bring baskets to Jack and Adam.
Now, just because they don’t receive traditional Easter Baskets that doesn’t mean we deny them participation in other Easter-related activities. This past Sunday, for instance, we took the boys to an Easter egg hunt. If you’re not familiar with the Easter egg hunt it is a tradition in which the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated by filling surplus L’eggs pantyhose containers with jelly beans, Marshmallow Peeps and Hershey’s Kisses then hiding them in the shrubbery. (Christianity is the only control top religion with reinforced toes and no visible panty line. Take that Scientology.) Once the eggs are hidden, packs of children are permitted to hunt provided they are properly licensed.
Despite claims from some that there is no sport in hunting defenseless eggs, this annual custom is more about controlling the plastic Easter egg population since without these traditional culls our countryside would look like a Chuck E. Cheese Ball Crawl inside of 3 years. (America – Where a Kid can be a Kid)
We arrived at the hunting grounds just before One O’clock and gathered with the growing crowd of families on the church lawn across the street. There really is no better way to prepare for an activity celebrating Jesus than by first trampling his father’s lawn. While the other Dads and I discussed some of our favorite verses (my favorite is the 1974 classic Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla) Jack and Adam frolicked with the other kids, all of whom moved with the divoting grace of a 7-iron in the hands of Charles Barkley. Finally God stepped out of the vestibule shaking his fist and yelling something about “you irreverent children” and “just putting down fertilizer.” and fearing eternal damnation we all moved to the sidewalk.
After a group photo of the of the children was taken, a long-winded explanation of the rules of the hunt, and a surprise visit by the game warden to check permits the children were led across the street to the house where the egg hunt was taking place. With baskets in hand the children were reminded they could each find up to 15 eggs and no more than 2 baby carrots which served as Egg Hunt currency and could be traded in for bonus toys; or in other words Dollar Store crap that parents would have to furtively throw away once they got home. (As of last Sunday the currency exchange on one Baby Carrot was at $1.27 American Dollars. We’re either in a recession or a Cobb Salad.)
Since it’s difficult to find hiding places for over 300 hundred brightly colored plastic eggs against the dull bucolic backdrop of late winter the hunt was over within 5 minutes even for the least skilled of the hunters. Afterwards Jacked marched proudly around the yard, his basket overflowing with the spoils of his efforts, and Adam wandered aimlessly into the side of the shed, his basket overflowing with his own head.
The day ended with me extracting the contents of the plastic eggs in Jack’s basket and returning them the organizers (I wanted my security deposit back), Kathleen chasing Adam who had already eaten $.71 worth of a dirty baby carrot, and all the kids taking turns jumping on a rusty trampoline that lacked the customary protective netting around its exterior. It was a minor miracle none of them had a great fall by Humpty Dumptying themselves over the edge. (Another minor miracle? Turning water into wine coolers. See: Bartles & Jaymes 3:16)
It may just be that by talking about Easter I feel closer than ever to reconciling the feelings of ostracization and distress I associate with it or it could just be that we never seem to have any candy in the house, but I have the sudden urge to check the downstairs for loose floorboards.