Easter is here! It’s one of my favorite times of year. There is an energy in the air and winter dormancy explodes into new life. Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! But He still isn’t buying anything at the Dannemiller house.
One of our favorite Easter traditions comes from Mexico. In the towns along the US border, people make cascarones (pronounced “kahs-kah-roan-ays”) around the holiday – hollowed out egg shells filled with confetti. Tradition dictates that families gather to honor the agonizing death of Jesus and his triumphant resurrection by breaking the eggs on each others' heads, much like the disciples did at the Last Supper. At least that’s what I read in my Jerry Lewis Standard Edition of the Bible.
In years past, we purchased a few dozen of these eggs at HEB, the famed grocery store in Texas named after Henry E. Butt. This year was a different story. Unable to buy the cascarones, we spent the better part of five weeks watching my cholesterol spike and eating eggs every day for breakfast. We must have looked like the most OCD bunch of chefs in the world. Tap-tap-tapping on the pointy end of the egg with a pearing knife until breaking through like a baby chick, then gently prying off a small piece and violently shaking the egg out into a bowl.
Several were victims of cascarone research and development, but a couple dozen hollow casks made it to the top of our refrigerator where they dried until March 29th.
The next step was coloring the eggs. I need to talk with my mom to see if I nearly drowned in a large vat of Paas color solution when I was a kid, because the thought of taking on this type of messy craft project with children who have yet to master their opposable thumbs gives me the shakes.
Due to my phobia, I left this part of the work to Gab and the kids. My job was to take a blow dryer to get rid of any moisture in the shells once they were done. By the time I was finished styling them, every single egg could have supplanted Trump’s toupee.
Rather than buy confetti, we finely chopped some old chunks of tissue paper that Gabby had miraculously saved from some long-ago craft project. It’s good to know we’re prepared in case we need to coordinate a parade after the Apocalypse.
We combined the tissue paper shavings with finely diced financial documents we had recently put through the shredder. We thought this was worth the risk, given that it would take a really nasty person to steal your identity on one of the holiest days of the year. Still, we spread each document evenly among each egg to minimize our exposure. The finished product was awesome, and it was a fun, shared family experience we would have missed out on had we not been tackling our Year Without A Purchase.
* Scott topping off the cascarones. Audrey used water colors to paint all our faces. Good times.
The Easter Bunny was a different story.
While Santa has sweatshops full of elves to assist him in toy production, the Easter Bunny is a loner. The poor guy has to rely on Target to fill the baskets. But this year, no can do. Our bunny can’t buy any stuff.
In years past, we put small toys in the baskets and some knick-kacky needs. This year, in lieu of toys, we stuffed the baskets with more shredded mortgage docs to act as Easter grass, and threw in some plastic eggs from Gabby’s stash in the garage. Apparently it’s her substitute for a change purse post-Apocalypse.
We crammed the eggs full of jelly beans and fun size Snickers bars to appease the kids’ sweet tooth. We tried to think of what else they might get fired up about that’s not stuff. After some debate, we decided to get Audrey a gift card for an Arby’s roast beef sandwich and Jake a gift card for a Cool Ranch Locos Taco from Taco Bell.
We sincerely apologize to the First Lady for our poor choices.
When Easter morning arrived, we sent the kids searching through the house for their baskets. Knowing that they were likely to notice the lack of toys, we didn’t even mention the Easter Bunny by name. Didn’t want to throw the poor fella under the bus.
Little did we know, the simple pleasures are the best. They must put moon dust and Fun Dip on the shell of the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos taco, because Jake can’t stop talking about ‘em. And Audrey? That’s another story.
She looked at her gift card and said,
“Can I take Nana out to lunch?”
We gave her the phone. Of course, my mom accepted. I’m not sure who was more excited. Both of them nearly wet their pants.
When the day came, Audrey picked out a special outfit. Nana came over to pick her up. They went to Audrey’s favorite restaurant and sat across the table from each other, sharing roast beef sandwiches, curly fries and a mint chocolate shake. “It was delicious!” she shouted.
And she paid for the whole thing.
You can’t plan this stuff. It never would have happened had we filled those baskets with a mountain of trinkets. I know it’s a tiny victory. But it’s a big deal. And just a small taste of the selfless connection that can happen when you clear out the junk and focus on what’s important.