Following several cruel false starts, it appears that the vernal season has finally arrived. But the jury is still out for some of us hardened old Northerners who won’t believe that spring is well and truly here until it’s warm enough outdoors to fry an egg on our foreheads.
No matter what the weather does, it cannot halt the arrival of that season known as Easter, a holiday which was named for a remote Chilean island located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean.
No, wait. That’s not right. Easter was named for a riddle I once heard when I was a little kid:
This is why, as a child, I acquired the impression that Easter was named for a rabbit who was an anesthesiologist that had a side gig as a painted egg distributor.
Much of the Easter Bunny legend didn’t make a lot of sense. I understood the egg part, what with its allusion to spring and rebirth. But my experience was that rabbits don’t lay eggs. So how did the Easter Bunny acquire all those unhatched ovum?
The simplest explanation that sprang to mind was thievery. Some poor mother hen must have returned to her nest after a much-needed incubation break and said, “Hi kids, I’m home… Omigosh! Call the police! There’s been an egg-napping!”
Easter was a big deal at our house when I was a youngster. We never attended the sunrise service as it coincided with the morning milking of our 30 Holsteins. But after we had finished chores, my seven siblings and I cleaned up best as we could, threw on our Sunday duds and headed off for Easter services at First Lutheran.
Easter services were always packed to the rafters. Everyone was wearing their best outfits, including me. I had even polished my brown shoes to a shiny luster. I don’t know why my parents always put me in brown shoes. Perhaps it had something to do with the way that my feet always seemed to find mud.
During my youthful Sunday School days, each kid was issued a Lenten coin container. We were told that we should drop coinage into our containers whenever we could during Lent. This offering would be made possible by sacrificing a portion of our weekly allowances.
I had a few problems with that whole idea. First of all, what did stray cloth fibers that accumulated in our clothes dryer vent have to do with Easter? Second was the premise that every kid received an allowance. What a hoot! With eight kids under one roof, such piffle as doling out weekly allowances was out of the question. We knew that our “allowance” consisted of being allowed to sleep in a warm bed and having plenty of food to eat.
Our Lenten coin containers sat empty until Easter morning. Just before we lit out for Sunday School and church services, Mom dropped a few coins into each container. That’s when a delightful feature of the containers snapped into sharp focus.
Our Lenten coin containers were steel cylinders that were about the size of a soda can. When Mom popped the coins through the slots on their tops, we observed that the cans would produce a clang that was similar to that of a cowbell. Shaking a Lenten container that held even a few pennies created a wondrous din.
At the commencement of the Easter service, the grade school kids were herded into the front pews. The plan was for us to place our Lenten offerings on the altar then gather on the steps to serenade the congregation with an Easter tune.
As we filed in to take our places, the sanctuary reverberated with the clanking of innumerable coins rattling against scores of steel cans. The clamor subsided only slightly when our teachers attempted to shush us.
A signal was given and we lined up to place our cans on the altar. The clatter of cold cash against hard steel didn’t stop until the last can had departed the last pair of grubby little forepaws.
While we belted out our Easter tune, something occurred to me. It didn’t matter if your Lenten container held paltry pennies or numerous nickels or dozens of dimes; each made the same amount of racket. And the cans of the kids whose well-heeled parents had given them greenbacks for their allowance made no noise at all.
This egalitarian aspect of Easter made me smile despite being forced to sing in public. That and the prospect of soon enjoying a luscious Easter ham with my large and boisterous family.