Big Easter, Inc.

This is my weekly column for the Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune, posted on the day of publication in honor of the holiday. Happy Easter, everyone!

Big Easter, Inc.
By Aaron J. Brown

Easter Sunday dawns today, bringing all manner of religious, seasonal and sugar-related significance. For Christians, Easter remains one of the Big Two holidays; for pagans, one of the Big Four; and for wandering agnostics it’s at least a day of ham, eggs and jelly beans. Except for the vegetarian agnostics. They have just eggs and jelly beans. Also, it is warm.

As with all big holidays in America, commercialism and secular animals have crept into the mix. Until this year I always took pleasure that Easter maintained an understated approach to this trend. Christmas features Santa Claus, a big man with a booming voice, a global network of underlings and total air supremacy. Santa has authority. He judges you and then, using a twisted formula based on your parents’ net worth (times two if they are divorced), provides an according quantity of presents.

Not so for the Easter Bunny.

The Easter Bunny, in my mind, has always been the sad sap of holiday icons. He works alone. Some kids get DVDs and toys, other kids just get candy. It has nothing to do with how good you are. You just get what you get. Deal with it. In some houses, the Easter Bunny works hard to hide eggs and baskets in nooks and crannies. At other houses, children wake to find a bucket of M&Ms on the kitchen table next to dad’s cigarettes. “Happy Easter, junior. Looks like the bunny been here.”

With three small boys in our family we’ve adopted many of the Easter Bunny traditions. We dye eggs, paint everyone’s names on them and then eat them in order of age. Our favorite tradition is watching the lesser-known Peanuts special “Charlie Brown and the Easter Beagle.” Where the Snoopy Christmas is a cultural touchstone, the Easter Beagle is a strange throwback to ‘70s camp, including characteristic “bow chicka bow-wah” music and a view of the bird Woodstock’s swank, velvet festooned apartment. Anyway, the kids love it.

This morning, the boys will have enjoyed their visit by the Easter Bunny, who, like us, enjoys taking advantage of the after-Christmas sales. But something seems a little different out in the stores this year. The commercial Easter industry seems to be asserting itself a bit more strongly. Easter wants a taste of the action.

For instance, in one large display at a local retail store we found gingerbread “bunny hutches” that were eerily reminiscent of Christmas gingerbread houses. I can picture the planning meeting down at Gingertronics Corporation:

GINGERTRONICS CEO: “Listen, team, we’ve got to unload that warehouse of synthetic gingerbread that Jenkins said was ‘recession proof.’”

JENKINS: “Sorry about that. I mean, who knew that the recession could be symbolized by 500,000 units of inedible food made into the shape of uninhabitable homes.”

CEO: “Anyway, they’re bunny hutches now. Slap some ears on the reindeer and make sure that frosting has aged into pastel colors.”

How long do you think it’ll be before we’ve got light up rabbits and albums of music dedicated to melting snow and Peeps™.

“Oh the weather outside is unpredictable, But the fur is so rabbit-able, And since we’ve no taste for snow, let it go, let it go, let it go.”

It’s a work in progress. Perhaps this meager attempt can serve as an example of what happens when holidays try to emulate other more commercially lucrative holidays. Sometimes, the face value of a holiday celebrating rebirth and a season of warmth should be enough on its own.

Always cheer for the underbunny.

Aaron J. Brown is a columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune. Contact him or read more at his blog His book “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range” is out now.

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