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First of all, Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter!
Today is perhaps my favorite holiday of the year. If you are a person of faith as I am, it is the day of the resurrection. The day HE IS RISEN has particular significance. One of the two days just about everybody goes to church (known as the Christmas and Easter crowd, thank you very much) and a day of food, faith and family. Even if these are not your beliefs, the message of redemption, peace and a new start are cool notions all of themselves.
I judge a holiday by the memories in creates. No offense to the days off commemorating Presidents Day or Memorial Day, but I doubt you can tell me what you did on those days as a kid. Christmas and Easter dominate those memories, and Easter is particularly rich in such. From the time you were a kid hunting for Easter eggs, to the time you stayed up late, dyed a bunch of eggs as if they were going to be on display one day at the Louvre, then hid them in the front yard before turning your own children loose. All while trying to capture video of the event while your spouse played the role of the director.
Those rich memories also include Easter sunrise services, because they provided some particularly peaceful moments. But they are for the young, as I have found them to be a survival of the fittest contest. As the name suggests, the services start at sunrise, and unless you are blessed with natural beauty, this involves getting up a few hours before sunrise to get dressed and be there. In my younger days, I worked in the newspaper business where you didn’t get home until 2 AM after putting together the last edition of the Sunday paper. Since you’d be getting up at 4 AM anyway, I’d just stay up, power through everything, then after a hearty Easter meal go search for an unoccupied sofa to “meditate.”
But the greatest non-religious aspect of the Easter tradition is the chocolate Easter bunny. Back when I was a kid, there was an arms race with these bunnies, as you had to show your kid how much you thought of them by buying the biggest one there was (now you just buy them a $1,000 Iphone). There wer of course the eggs, jelly beans and other assorted items in the Easter basket, but the centerpiece was the chocolate bunny, roughly akin to the turkey on the Thanksgiving table. It had to be good.
We all grow up, and sadly the Easter baskets stop. But my beloved wife decided long ago that the tradition of the chocolate bunny had to go on. We’ve been married for 37 years, and in all 37 of those years, a chocolate bunny has appeared on the table. They have varied in names from that of Horace Hefflehopper….Parsnip Pete…Hoops…Big Ears…the list goes on and on. If you have been shopping for chocolate bunnies over the years, you will have noticed the emphasis in the product has gone from quantity to quality, with bunnies now made of the finest chocolates, but smaller in size.
This hasn’t stopped my wife, who has been known to pillage through the shelves of Target, CVS, Walmart and every grocery store ever built in search of a chocolate bunny the size of a third-grader. She was actually this week visiting her mother in Roanoke, and didn’t arrive home until late Saturday afternoon. But sure enough, she went to the Roanoke Wal-Mart, secured something called a “Grand Bunny” and presented it to me immediately upon her return.
Not to be outdone, the Nationals – whom I was watching at the time – did a little Grand Bunny of their own, as Brian Goodwin hit a grand slam literally a minute later. To celebrate, of course, I tore off the ears of Grand Bunny and feasted on the Nationals’ good luck.
There of course are other Easter confections worthy of adoration – a Reese chocolate and peanut butter egg that’s spent some time in the refrigerator on a warm night is pretty close to heaven on earth – but the chocolate bunny will always be the leader in the clubhouse. Heck, I can’t remember the names of half the people I went to high school with. But I can remember Horace Hefflehopper and Parsnip Pete.
So if you have one in your possession, as they said in the movie Die Hard, “bite ‘em if you got ‘em.”
Buona Pasqua. Happy Easter. May today be a day of peace and happiness for you.