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By Staff | Mar 27, 2015

It’s almost Easter, which means we must keep a sharp eye out for a fickle furbearer, that remarkable rabbit who sneaks about and hides colorful eggs. Granted, this is much nicer than what bunnies usually leave behind. But still, it’s odd.

Easter has always been somewhat confusing for me. This bafflement began when I was a wee tyke and our Sunday school teacher entrusted each of us with a Lenten offering container.

This church-sanctioned container was, in reality, a tin can that had been swaddled with purple construction paper and had a slot cut into its removable lid.

The idea was that we were to use the six weeks leading up to Easter to save a Lenten offering in the can. But it soon became painfully clear that I had zero chance of filling my Lenten offering container.

I shared this doleful news with one of my older sisters, popping off the lid of my purple can to show her the results of my efforts.

“There’s no way I’ll ever get this filled unless Mom lets me raid the clothes dryer,” I lamented.

“You dope,” replied my sister tactfully, “You’re supposed to be saving up for Lent. Not saving lint.”

What a relief. My poor little navel had been pushed to its production capacity. On the other hand, my income was miniscule and most of my allowance had already been earmarked for essential candy purchases.

The odds that I would fill my Lenten offering container remained woefully low.

But then, on Easter morning, a few coins magically appeared next to our offering containers.

It was deeply gratifying to hear the metallic clang of the coins dropping onto the bottom of the can.

Whoever came up with the idea of mixing coins and metal cans with little kids didn’t take into account the amount of noise that could be produced by a chorus of youngsters shaking their Lenten offering containers.

Then there is that cultural curiosity called the Easter Bunny.

One spring when I was just a tot, I was wandering the aisles of a department store while Mom shopped. Suddenly a towering, blue-furred being was standing over me.

Its front paw held a small wicker basket of candy.

“Go ahead kid, take one,” growled the rabbit in a voice that was rough as asphalt.

The rubber band that held on his cheap plastic mask strained against its staples. I noticed that the Easter Bunny – or whatever it was – smelled vaguely of beer and cigarettes.

Mom nodded in approval, so I warily reached into the basket and quickly snatched a small chocolate egg.

The giant rabbit then turned and skipped away, its oversized polyester ears flopping crazily, its glued-on cottontail bobbing in a jaunty manner.

I had so many questions. For instance, what does a man-sized bipedal blue rabbit have to do with Easter?

For that matter, what do chocolate eggs? And how does “never take candy from a stranger” square with accepting candy from this strangest of strangers?

Another Easter tradition that I never quite got was Easter eggs. I understand how the egg represents new life and all that, but we always cooked the dickens out of our chicken eggs before we colored them.

Nothing could have survived the roiling boiling that we gave those eggs.

But it was fun to color the eggs and hide them for our younger siblings. We used eggs that had been produced by our flock of free-range hens, so the first step of the Easter egg hunt at our farm involved us older kids searching for the secret spots where the hens had hidden their ovoid offerings.

We would dip the scalding-hot eggs into bowls of food dye. Since we didn’t have any special tools for this purpose, it was easy to identify the Easter Bunny’s assistants.

They were the ones who had festively colored pastel fingers.

No Easter dinner would be complete without a baked ham. Mom would shove a ham the size of a Volkswagen Beetle into the oven early in the morning; by the time we got home from church, the whole house would be infused with the succulent aroma of sizzling smoked pork.

Dripping with fat and loaded with salt, the ham was bacchanal of dietary extravagance that helped us mark the end of Lent.

And while our hens may have contributed to our Easter dinner, it was the hog who had made a true commitment. But the Easter Bunny also played a part.

Because Easter dinner was never complete without a plateful of sliced boiled eggs that were tinged with festive pastel colors.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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