“I was over in Australia during Easter, which was interesting...They celebrate Easter the same way we do. They commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus by telling their children that a giant bunny-rabbit left chocolate eggs in the night. Now, I wonder why we’re f****d up as a race? Anybody?” (Bill Hicks, 1961-94)
As a parent, there are certain concessions I’m willing to make to the fictions of childhood. Santa? Check. Fairies living in the forest, one of whom will slip hard cash under your pillow in exchange for teeth? I’m in.
But I’m sorry. I refuse to ratify the Easter Bunny. (If this sentence conjures an image of a giant rat carrying a basket of eggs, you’re welcome).
Easter must take the prize for most random festival. Just look at the snacks. A buttered currant-bun decorated with the instrument of the messiah’s execution? Ooh, they look yummy, I’ll take two...
Not that our kids get to hear about all of that, anyway, unless they go to a church school or we take it upon ourselves to fill them in. And then we’ve got to get the story straight.
Easter must take the prize for most random festival. Just look at the snacks. A buttered currant-bun decorated with the instrument of the messiah’s execution?
There’s some cool stuff in there, I remember. The donkey, the palms and the dinner party make a fine prelude. Then there’s all that betrayal - a staple of melodrama - the cock crowing Peter’s denial (gotta love an animal-cameo), a doozy of an anti-hero in Judas, that guy who washes his hands, who I aways get mixed up with Herod.... It’s rich in subplot and texture, before you even get to the gore and cathartic final act.
I may not have a religious cell in my body, but I know a good story when I hear one. It’s a shame our kids are still too young to fully appreciate this one. (Though I can imagine our 5 year-old son, in particular, relishing the grislier details of the crucifixion, and roleplaying them with our long-suffering cats.)
Parents are not short of reasons to be down on Easter. I’ve seen at first hand what a chocolate-binge does to small children. (We hoped for a while that the vomitfest that was April 2013 might have put our two off their seasonal choco-gluttony, and its associated mania and inter-sibling violence, but no such luck.) That we are prohibited from dumping the sugar-crazed fiends at school for the two long weeks that follow seems vindictive.
Another reason for my personally being such an Easter Grinch may lie in my status as a British expat. Back where I’m from, besides being largely a Bunny-free zone, Easter means that the worst of the crap weather is behind us, that winter is done and another disappointing, drizzly summer just around the corner. The emerging spring is a time of delusional hope in the United Kingdom, and we all like a bit of that stuff.
We hoped for a while that the vomitfest that was April 2013 might have put our two off their seasonal choco-gluttony, and its associated mania and inter-sibling violence, but no such luck.
And at least the whole bunny and egg thing fits with a spring setting. Here it’s just perplexing.
But I’m an Aussie dad now, and as such feel duty-bound to get with the program (hey, I’m no “piker” - did I say that right?) and take up one Easter tradition that our nation has made its own.
So this weekend we go camping. Out at some lake a half-day’s traffic-choked drive away, I’ll be pitching a tent alongside half the suburban families in Australia, or at least my partner will, as I stagger about, half-heartedly in search of the mallet I left just over there, while being loudly berated for my uselessness. For me, camping involves far too much velcro, too many zips, altogether too much emphasis on fastening - like fatherhood itself, it’s fiddly, undignified and discriminates against the impractical. Don’t get me started on goddam strollers and car-seats.
Joining us will be several other families, including an army of children, between the ages of two and seven. Over three days, they will form tribes and descend into grimy-faced, sub-Lord Of The Flies-esque savagery that will culminate in a chocolate-hunt that takes them as far away from our tents and exhausts them as much as possible.
Meanwhile my role, as I understand it, is to gather wood, drink beer and discuss the imminent football season, and our routes homeward, with my fellow dadfolk. Traditional, you see?
If that’s to be my Easter sacrifice, I guess I can make it.
Just spare me that bunny-suit.