I feel the need

I feel the need

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Some Easter traditions are better...and less mentally damaging...than others.

Good afternoon!

For those of you who celebrate Easter, Happy Easter!

Easter is one of those religious holidays, like Christmas, that has, in the US anyway, gotten tangled up with fairly funky non religious traditions.  Here in the US, the Risen Savior is the reason for the season, as they say, but the Easter Bunny and his baskets of pastel wrapped candies is the big score many folks look for. 

Sorry...no Johnny Gage for you.  It's Easter.
My family, when I was growing up, was very, very religious.  Easter meant one huge thing for me:  i didn't get to watch "Emergency!" the Saturday night before, because we had to get up and be at church by 5 for the sunrise service that started at 6.  (My parents played organ, sang in the choir, helped with the Easter breakfast, so we had to get to church super early.) 
"I know you're all very tired
and but can we hold the snoring
down to a dull roar?  And yes, there
will be bacon after the
final hymn"

Easter morning also meant something else:  It mean my mother would be extra tired, since she and dad stayed up to hide the eggs all over the house  (we didn't use the yard.  Living in Michigan, Easter weather isn't always all that dependable...plus we had all kinds of dogs wandering around our neighborhood, getting into mischief and eating stuff.)  and since she was extra tired, it meant she had less humor than normal.  So when Brother and I would find eggs during the normal course of getting ready for church...she'd howl at us to "JUST EAT YOUR BREAKFAST AND GET IN THE CAR."

And no, I don't know why we had to eat breakfast before church when the mother of all breakfasts awaited us after church.  Seriously...if you aren't a Christian, you are really missing out on the whole church Easter breakfast thing.

Anyway, we'd go to church, stuff ourselves with all sorts of breakfast yummies, and come home.  One tradition the kids of my congregation had was to see who could eat the most hard boiled eggs at the breakfast.  You know, the colored eggs everyone uses as a centerpiece...well we kids would spend some time gathering up as many as we could without the adults noticing.  Then the contest would begin.  As far as I know, Greg Panos  (Yes, that's his real name) still holds the record at 14...and he was in third grade at the time.

Our big tradition after church was to come home and find our own Easter eggs and baskets.  Now, almost every family I know does this, but at our house it was sort of twisted...and therefore funny.  See, by the time we got home, my parents had been up for almost 7 hours, and we kids were a touch cranky too.  Plus, most Easters we had to get in the car in the afternoon for the 9 hour drive to my grandparents' home in Wisconsin, so mom and dad had that good big fun to look forward to AFTER we found our eggs and baskets.

My father is one of those guys who makes charts and lists of stuff.  I've always thought that if he were running the world things would be a lot more organized because he would boil absolutely everything down to a chart, and then time everything.  he's very big on clocks and time.  Easter was a big deal for him because he would not only keep track of how many eggs they hid, he made a list of where the eggs were hidden.  Brother and I would scurry about the house, while mom lay on the couch, and look for eggs here and there and find our baskets.  The rule was we weren't allowed to TOUCH our baskets...and the candy therein...until ALL THE EGGS HAD BEEN FOUND.

Every Easter Sunday, from the time I was five until the year my mother said, "THAT'S IT WE ARE NOT DOING EGGS AGAIN, YOU CHILDREN DO NOTHING BUT CRY," (I'm pretty sure I was eleven) would proceed the same way.  We'd look for eggs, we'd find some, we'd make a huge mess looking for eggs in places like the sugar canister..and the flour canister.  (One year, my mother tells me, I dumped the two together to find an egg.  I don't remember that, but I'm sure she took away "Emergency!" for a week to punish me.)

After about ten minutes of really chaotic searching, we were tired, and done with the egg hunt.  That's where my father would walk around saying, "You have seven more eggs to find."

We'd search another five minutes, find a couple more eggs, and whine about wanting candy.
Forget being afraid of the rabbit
This kid is crying because he has
9 more eggs to find. 

My mother would say, "Dennis, just tell them where the eggs are!"

My father would say, "If we don't find the eggs now, we'll find them in about a week when they start to stink."

Another five minutes and eggless running amok and finally my mother would snatch the list out of his hands and say, "Sarah, go to the bathroom and look in the drawers."

I think this is a good time to tell you that I was one of those kids who just didn't find stuff.  My mother constantly would yell, "IF I COME DOWN THERE AND FIND IT FOR YOU, THERE WILL BE NO EMERGENCY FOR A WEEK."

Frankly, I'm surprised I ever got to see that show.

Easter Sunday would always end the same way:  Kids crying, mom grouchy on the couch, Dad wandering around the house saying, "Why do we do this if no one wants to do this?"  and then we'd get in the car for nine hours and not say anything to each other.

Good times.

When I had kids, I knew I was going to do the whole Easter bunny baskets and eggs thing too.  It's a thing...you swear you're not going to be your parents, but then it happens.  The good news is, you've probably married someone who is turning into THEIR parents and so with the new mix of traditions, something fun can happen.

Case in point:  Our Easter traditions.  We too, like my family before, go to Easter sunrise service and Easter breakfast.  And we too, like my family before, hide the eggs.   That's where the similarities end.  Instead of making the kids find their baskets, each  year I'd put the baskets right at their bedroom doors, along with a note from the NAUGHTY EASTER RODENT.

The Naughty Easter Rodent is a rabbit who, while we sleep, hides our eggs that we were going to play tips and butts with  (you don't know tips and butts?  Read on.)  at grandma's house.  Since we do not have time to find the eggs before church, the Rodent gives us a basket of goodies, small clothing items, perhaps a small toy, to apologize for being naughty.

The children get to wear the shoes or new clothes to church.  (This was always the way I justified buying new clothes for the kids.)  then they'd find the eggs after the breakfast, just in time to take the eggs to grandma's house where we'd play Tips and Butts.

Now Tips and Butts originated at my paternal grandparent's home.  Each year, as we were all super full from eating a big Easter meal, we'd reach for the plates of colored eggs in the center of the table. My grandmother LOVED coloring Easter eggs, so we had plenty.  We'd each pick an egg, and begin battles with the person next to us.  A battle would start with the two players holding their eggs either with the tip  (the skinny end of the egg) or the butt (the round end of the egg) up.  On person would point his egg down on top of the other person's egg and start trying to smash that person's egg.  Then they would reverse and do "butts."  The egg that wasn't crushed moved on to do battle with someone else at the table.  The smashed egg was passed down to my uncle, who patiently pealed every egg.  He ate some of them, but most of them sat in a pile of pastel colored baubles, next to a pile of pastel colored rubbish, in front of him.

Battles would last a good long time, until the eggs ran out.  The last person standing with either a whole egg, or , more likely, a tip or butt intact, was the winner.  I don't know what we won.

Tips and butts is a very fun way to blow off some steam after what tends to be a formal dinner.  Our nasty twist?  color one raw egg and put it in with the general population of hard boiled eggs.  If you know the trick to telling the difference between a raw egg and a hard boiled egg  (I do.) you can avoid getting splattered.  Otherwise, hilarity ensues.

I think having your own traditions for anything is a good idea.  Creating your own traditions is even more fun, especially if you have a dark sense of humor.

Meanwhile, happy Easter to everyone.  To all you Christians:  He is RISEN!  To those of you celebrating something else this time of year, enjoy your holidays!  It's what ties families together...even when they want to kill each other.

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