When I was growing up, our family didn’t have very many Easter traditions outside of the typical dying of eggs and feeding of sugar to small children. This was back when my Mom was just “Mom” (or occasionally “The Warden”) rather than the much more terrifying “Reverend Mother.” My most significant Easter memory is of getting grounded for trying to poison my little brother with Peeps. My theory was that since they tasted so disgusting, they must be deadly. I fed him two large boxes that I had purloined from the pantry, but he didn’t die. He did barf. He also told on me. I got sent to my room, and as further punishment Josh got the rest of the contents of my Easter basket – including a stretchy, sticky frog toy that you could slime things with from significant distances. I had plans for that.
Since my brother decided to move his family (also referred to as: the reason we all have to live in Corpus) to Hawaii a couple of years ago, Easter fun at my parents’ house has been in serious decline. The holiday is a blast with kids around. They’re the only people in the world willing to believe that Easter candy is delicious rather than the hideous offspring of a drunken collaboration between Willie Wonka and Mr. Hyde. To a kid, a Cadbury Egg is just a huge chunk of chocolate. They don’t know yet what lies inside – that disgusting sugar slime that so closely mirrors yolk and albumen that it’s like swallowing a raw egg, except it’s one that fuzzes up your tongue with corn syrup to the extent that the organ must be brutally scrubbed with a toothbrush before you can taste salt again. Also, sometimes kids will try to eat the plastic grass in the basket. This can be pretty funny – especially if they’re not your children.
My mother is a Presbyterian minister now, so Easter and Christmas are, to her, the metaphorical equivalent of being called up to the majors. Long hours of preparation go into her sermons, and the sanctuary at her church is as packed as it gets. Then, after preaching, she has to come home to us. The G.P. is an atheist from way back, and so doesn’t really care one way or another about the religious aspects of holidays — the epicurean elements are much more to his taste. I’m the same way, and I can always eat.
Most of the year we torment her mercilessly. For instance, once she left a book entitled “Jesus!” lying on a shelf in the living room. For several weeks, every single time Dad or I walked past that book we’d shout, “JESUS!” The Rev would freak out – “What in Heaven’s name is wrong?” she’d exclaim, and then the guilty party would mumble something about stubbed toes or there’s the postman. We did this for WEEKS. I don’t know if the Rev ever figured it out, but she did eventually move the book.
You might wonder how my parents have survived over 40 years of marriage with such different ideologies. I think it’s because both of them have damned good senses of humor, and because they always buy big houses. We love Mom so on Easter the G.P. and I generously declare a bullcrap ceasefire and try to be nice to Mom about her faith. It generally lasts through dinner, but not through the board games that come after. I beat my Mother at Scrabble by one point after practicing for an entire year and have refused to play with her ever since. We are a cutthroat people.
Mom called the other day to ask me if I wanted to attend Easter lunch (momspeak for come at noon, but we’ll be eating at 8 p.m.) at their place. I said yes because while I am a terrible daughter, I am an occasionally dutiful one. She got very chirpy and said, “Oh good! I’ll call you next week and we’ll start talking about what you can make!”
“You mean for like food?” I replied, concerned.
“Of course for food.”
“Like chips or something?”
“No, food made of food.”
“But MOOOOOOMMMMM, everyone hates my cooking.”
“I don’t hate your cooking,” my most staunch supporter replied. “I need to take my shower.” Then she hung up on me.
I still don’t know what to make. I think it’s going to be something like a salad that I sneakily pour out of a bag and into a bowl when no one’s looking. Maybe I’ll go that extra mile and bring over a jug of salad dressing. Like I said, I’m sometimes dutiful. What I really want to do, however, is throw caution to the wind and show up with two big boxes of Peeps and see what happens. We’ll probably all die.