Easter was always a big deal when I was growing up; we celebrated this holiest of Christian holidays — the very reason for the religion — with new outfits, fancy dinners, and heavy-duty church services. One of my favorite Easter traditions was the annual purchasing of my Easter hat, usually a white floppy-brimmed straw number trimmed with lace and an elastic string to hold it on. Dressing up in my hat and shiny white Mary Janes was enough to make Easter special.
As a very small child, I also dyed eggs and received baskets of goodies from the Easter Bunny. But my mom played down the bunny angle, keeping the baskets small, with a tiny bit of candy as the only treat. One year I received a sculpted sugar egg, which I kept on my dresser for months because the sugared violets and roses were so beautiful and intricately made. But that was as fancy as it got.
After about age eight, when Mom got fed up with the commercialization of Easter, the bunny stopped coming to my house. And that was that.
Now, as a mother of small boys, I find myself suddenly thrust into the Easter Bunny role, and I’m not sure exactly what to do. Like my mom, I don’t love the commercialization of a highly religious holiday. Our church is not nearly as formal as the one I grew up in, so dressing the boys up in Easter suits and ties would make them look pretty out of place. Also, being boys, the purchasing of new Easter polo shirts doesn’t really excite them the way my hat tickled my fancy. So I’m left feeling like I need to be the Easter Santa, bearing of gifts and baskets of goodies to make the holiday special.
Our culture certainly supports that — the Easter gifts aisle at the Wal-Mart goes on and on, with everything from Easter-themed Mr. Potato Heads to special Play-Doh in Easter pastel colors. Then there are the aisles and aisles of Easter candy, which does nothing but contribute to the obesity epidemic. Besides, the boys eat small amounts of candy often enough that getting a little extra on Easter isn’t especially special.
After much deliberation, I did make small Easter baskets for the boys this year. And we dyed eggs, which they enjoyed. But it wasn’t much. Perhaps more importantly, the boys were old enough to stay awake through the first part of the Easter Vigil this year at my in-laws’ Catholic church. The boys were enthralled by the once-a-year rituals — watching the Paschal candle being lit from a bonfire outside, and the bringing of that light into the church by hundreds of tiny candles; the readings and music; the air scented with dozens of daffodils and hyacinths.
I hope all of that that was enough to make the holiday special, because this Easter Bunny suit itches more than is comfortable, and I don’t like it.