I am closer to the Easter Bunny than I have ever been to Santa. Sure, Santa’s jolly, but his love is conditional. All that ‘naughty or nice’ business? Too much pressure. The Easter Bunny is another matter. Like Santa, he has roots in pagan and religious tradition, but his love is democratic, unconditional, joyful, and never scary. His lovable cuteness bounces him through the countless visits he makes to children and adults, bearing treats, and ultimately, bestowing in all the promise of Spring and renewal.
He brings baskets to all and sundry, no strings attached, the notable exception being the insensitive households in which rabbit recipes are posted on fridge doors. The Easter Bunny may be innocent and joyful, but he also has a strong sense of self-preservation.
Years ago, on Easter Sunday, my doorbell rang. I opened the door just in time to see a rusted-up car zooming away. Hanging from my mailbox was a bright Easter basket with chocolates and eggs galore. This touched me so much, that when a family with small children moved in next door, I fell into the habit of sneaking over early Easter morning and leaving a basket at their door. After two years, I discovered that they were nervous about the anonymous basket and wouldn’t let their kiddies eat the chocolates. Whoops. After that, I included a card, so they would realize it was a wannabe Easter Bunny, not the neighbourhood psychopath.
Easter heralds the joy of spring, along with all the tulips, birdies, pastel colours and yes, hope. Hope takes many forms: for some, no more crazy people making important global decisions; for others, the mood-enhancing sunlight, for the practical, absolute exultation in the end of snow shovelling, spinning tires and elegant dives into snowdrifts, and for the culinary minded, the return of Asparagus! Fiddleheads! Spring chicken!
I love making Easter dinner. In the good times, just a few friends or close relatives sit at a table adorned with bunny napkin rings, vases, and candleholders. Break out the bunnies! It’s Easter! I sing as a I trot around, arranging tulips, putting on my springtime CDs, and generally feeling a heck of a lot less stress than that accompanying the often obligatory Christmas feast. Yes, the light peach tablecloth, the pink candles, the pale green napkins! Sometimes, in the midst of this trance of spring celebration, I even manage to present a decent dinner. No matter how hackneyed it may seem to the young and hip, retro deviled eggs are a must at the Easter table. A ham from the supermarket, a jolly roast chicken with lemon and apples, a platter of asparagus, and the constant on my table, a Hungarian cucumber salad, and I improvise the rest, while singing ‘Here Comes Peter Cottontail.’ Every year, I consider trying to create the famous Faberge egg cake (sort of like the Sistine Chapel of baking) and every year, I decide it is better for my mental health, and society, if I put this off for another year. But that is what Easter is about, anticipating tomorrow while living in the now.
I know the Easter Bunny wouldn’t want me to knock myself out slaving over an Easter feast. I figure he wants the spotlight, pattering around, leaving little treats for those of us who still believe in spring.