Jerome Christenson: Beyond Rabbits | Columnists


Jerome Christenson For the Winona Daily News

It helps to be an adult on Easter.

As kids, it didn’t take long for us to figure out the holidays. Fireworks on July 4. A trick or treat meant Halloween.

Then there was that hour-long drive to eat dry turkey and lumpy potatoes with relatives we really didn’t like very much. Memorial Day meant the end of school, summer is here!

But when it comes to the holidays — at least in white Christian America — two have definitely claimed the top spot — Christmas and Easter, and of those two, the one featuring the fat guy with the flying sleigh, packed on the gunwales with Lincoln Logs, Tonka Trucks and a pair of authentic Roy Rogers six-shot guns placed boots and fir trees above the stray bunny pooping candy and hard-boiled eggs.

Yeah, in a kid’s holiday trio – Christmas, Halloween, and Easter – Easter was only shown because Valentine’s Day was too mushy and none of the other holidays involved a lot of candy or goodies . Even so, this springtime candy party faced no small struggle to stay in the good books of the entire high school.

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First of all, no one ever knew exactly when it was going to be. All other holidays had their regular red number permanently fixed on the calendar – Turkey Day wandered around a bit but was still reliably mid-week at the end of November – close enough for a fifth grader.

Easter, on the other hand, wandered over a quarter of the calendar, showing up who knows when for who knows what reason. Any kid knows that if there’s one thing vacations should be, it’s that they’re reliable.

And reliable in a good way. Easter was also missing in this department.

Now there is always an accumulation of holidays worth celebrating. You need to find a costume for Halloween; fall in love for valentines day. Christmas has Advent and, of course, if there is to be Easter, Lent has to be skipped – and that gives Bunny Day a bad start.

Compare the traditional Advent calendar – a small, sweet treat every day for the four weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, highlighting four weeks of filling cookie jars, counters laden with pots of fudge, bark of almond and deity with holiday crystal dishes set of hard candies outside, unattended on each end table – with preparation from Lent until Easter.

Hot tuna and fish sticks on Fridays, ditch six episodes of your favorite TV show and spend every Wednesday night at church.

All this so that you may be roused from a deep sleep in the darkness of Easter Sunday morning; be dressed in a starched white shirt, clip-on tie, and brand new shiny black leather shoes that slip when you walk, pinch when you sit, and will never be worn to do anything fun at distance.

All this to get to church at dawn to get the Good Lord out of bed so you can eat cold scrambled eggs and soft bacon in the church basement, nursing a freshly bruised thigh from pinching that mom delivered to keep you awake and not squirming through an overly long sermon and a few faux choir hymns.

When you’re 8 years old, the hollow chocolate bunny and hard-boiled eggs waiting for you at home are hardly worth suffering.

But little do you know, you will see much more suffering as even the best of lives unfold.

We don’t know, when we are 8, how Easter can guide our handling of this. How Lent in our lives will eventually come to an end and the good things we had missed and feared would never return come back. And while the Eggs and Candy aren’t as spectacular as Lincoln Logs or Tonka Trucks, they are good stuff and good stuff to be thankful for. And how good to know.

Even if getting to know it takes a little time to grow…

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