North Coast Journal


In your Easter bonnet

By Maka MacKenna

I'm looking at a mail order catalog that came today. On the cover it has a pair of figurines, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Rabbit, dressed in garish pastels as befits the Easter season.

I'm sure the well-furnished home cannot do without such adornment, but mine sure can. I don't decorate my house for Easter at all. Since I was a kid, I've been convinced that Easter is a pretty lame excuse for a holiday.

First of all, you don't get presents. You don't even get to go around the neighborhood begging for treats.

I remember Christmases when Sam Glenn would show up dressed as Santa Claus, and we'd have to pretend we didn't know who he was. A little acting was a small price to pay for the wagonload of presents we got to take home.

Easter had absolutely no attractions to compare. No presents was bad enough, but on top of that, the candy was inferior. Like those yellow candy chickens made out of stuff that tastes like ground chalk. What ethnic folk tradition are we honoring there, I wonder? Or those scary prehistoric-looking rabbits made of bad chocolate, mercifully hollow.

Easter food in general didn't compare with Christmas food, or Thanksgiving's. My parents would threaten to serve lamb which we swore we wouldn't eat, so the compromise would be a ham, which furnished sandwiches for what seemed like a month after.

The other aftermaths of Easter are equally unsatisfactory. Like the way the egg color goes under the shell and dyes the egg too, so that when you thriftily make egg salad out of the colored eggs, it comes out a bilious gray-green or gray-purple color. Then it sits in the refrigerator for a week before someone puts it out of its misery and into the garbage.

As I was growing up, Easter was not only a festival inferior in all ways to the others, it inspired its own sort of dread. This was due to the spring ritual known as The New Coat.

All year long I'd remind my parents loud and long of my many deprivations, but when spring came rolling around for some reason it was my doom to be fitted for a new coat.

The seamstress was a nice lady with shaky hands. I was jabbed with pins and told to hold still and jabbed some more and told to hold still some more. This was for the construction of a coat I'd wear half a dozen times before I'd outgrow it.

The companion ritual torture associated with Easter was The Permanent. Year after year, I was dragged up to the mezzanine in Daly's to be rinsed and cut and steamed and baked and have sulphurous-smelling potions dumped on my hair. I suppose these days you'd call it child abuse.

At least in my case, the newly curled locks would stay curly for a few weeks. My poor cousin, whose hair was the color and consistency of corn silk, would be curly for a few hours and straight as a stick again by the time we made our appearance in church.

Finally, in our scratchy new clothes and unfamiliar hair, we suffered through church, which lasted twice as long as usual. You had to learn a lot of new music, too. Obviously, Easter has a deep spiritual meaning to true Christians, but I was already a skeptic.

The only thing that salvaged Easter as a holiday was that we got a week off from school. One year we were even schlepped downtown on school time to see "The Ten Commandments," which could also qualify as child abuse, considering how bad the acting was.

The North Coast is as good a place as any to celebrate Easter or Passover or whatever. The hordes of college kids who will invade Palm Springs, Laguna Beach and Malibu haven't discovered us yet, so take a walk on one of our nice quiet beaches - and enjoy.

And pass the yellow and purple jelly beans.

Maka MacKenna is a Eureka free-lance writer.

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