Believe me when I tell you that I was shocked — shocked, I tell you — when my wife, Kim, told me yesterday that when she and her brother were young children, the Easter bunny never came to their house.
"What?" I cried. "No Easter bunny?"
I couldn't imagine.
Back in my day (I actually love to say that now), the Easter bunny faithfully visited our house each Easter. He didn't leave colored eggs in the yard for us to find, but he did leave an Easter basket for each of the three sons brimming with goodies, including a hollow chocolate replica of himself planted in a bed of fake green tinsel-like grass (Astroturf before there was Astroturf, I guess), surrounded by handfuls of Hershey kisses, jelly beans, a couple of Peeps or two and a colored hard-boiled egg.
A blatant sugar grab if ever there was one.
Easter, of course, was never like Christmas. It was clearly an understated event. It wasn't something that we'd get up early for. In fact, we were allowed one or two pre-breakfast samples of chocolate kisses or jelly beans, then breakfast itself, before attending church.
Afterwards, it was on to one of the two sets of competing grandparents for an Easter meal, which usually included ham, sweet potatoes, creamed potatoes, a green vegetable and, perhaps in recognition of the Easter delivery system, sliced carrots. For some reason, I remember dessert always being lemon meringue pie. C'mon. We were Moravians. Where were the sugar cakes?
Grandma Kessler, baker extraordinaire, provided us with zip. Nada. What the...? I guess maybe she was still in recovery from her Christmas overloads.
In truth — or at least for me — the Easter bunny never quite gained the same traction that Santa Claus did. Consequently, he soon vanished down the rabbit hole of disbelief long before the jolly old elf poofed in the chimney. Magic rabbits. Yeah, right.
Over the years — and especially since moving to North Carolina and within a half-hour of Old Salem — Easter took on what I feel like are its proper dimensions for me. Every few years we'd go to the celebrated and emotional sunrise service to become revitalized, restored and renovated once again. It's a good feeling.
Then it's back home for NCAA tournament, baseball's Opening Day and — surreptitiously, at least — another sugar grab. Some things never change.