By Sarah Pridgeon
Easter is a wonderful time of the year, renewing both a Messiah’s pledge of eternal life and the promise of spring flowers. For me, however, it brings mixed emotions, all thanks to a mental short circuit on the part of my mother: when I was ten years old, she made me eat the Easter Bunny.
To be specific, she chopped that poor bunny rabbit into pieces, baked it into a pie and then served it with gravy and – as a final insult – carrots. To her mind, rabbit pie was the perfect Easter celebration.
I looked down at my dinner plate with no small amount of dismay but, because my family has a “waste not, want not” policy on mealtimes, was forced to eat every scrap, one sob-inducing morsel after another. It was a horrifying experience that has probably scarred me for life.
Much like the terrible year in which the parental powers-that-be decided I had grown too old for an Easter hunt. For many a happy Easter, I had spent the morning trotting about the living room on chubby toddler legs, plucking chocolate eggs from potted plants. Suddenly, they told me, that pleasure was to be curtailed.
This is a difficult mandate to abide by when you are the child of a mother who believes you should always get a Christmas stocking if you believe in Santa Claus and proclaims on a monthly basis that she definitely believes in Santa Claus.
I still haven’t quite let go of my resentment. Why doesn’t the Easter Bunny care that I still believe in him? I couldn’t help but wonder: did he stop coming because we’d eaten him in a pie?
How I loved those hunts. I would hoard my Easter egg prizes like a dragon hoards its gold; guarding them in my lair, hissing at intruders and nibbling at them one by one, day by day. It was often late in the summer before I’d whittled down my pile, which is not a measure of self-restraint that translates to any other area of my life.
My grandfather joined the ranks of the Easter Day Torture Committee early on by convincing me that I don’t like Cadbury’s Crème Eggs, a delicacy that made up approximately 30 percent of my hunt hoard. I believed him, of course, because what loving grandparent would lie so brazenly to the innocent granddaughter in his care?
My loving grandparent, apparently. Such was his beady-eyed greed for Crème Eggs that he was prepared to go to unthinkable lengths to secure them.
His criminal behavior can be partly attributed to the devious marketing plan that Cadbury put forth in the 1980s: Crème Eggs were only made available for a couple of months each year, transforming them from yummy treat to limited edition trophy. Even today, a child of the 1980s will feel an element of panic when looking upon a Crème Egg and will place enough of them in the shopping cart to feed a family of four over the chocolate-barren winter.
We do this even knowing that Halloween will bring Scream Eggs, which taste exactly the same despite the food coloring, and that Crème Eggs over the pond have evolved into Splats, Mini Crème Eggs and several other novelty versions, all of which will be available somewhere on the candy shelf, all year round. Cadbury, I salute you for your cunning.
Despite it all, Easter remains one of my most treasured times of year. I still enjoy the celebration of springtime, with its many allusions to the beginning of the great cycle of life: lambs in the field, chicks in the nest and daffodils in the meadow. I still appreciate the message of Christ’s story and the hope it offers to our race of men.
It was almost two decades before I plucked up the courage to question my mother’s motives for the Easter Bunny massacre. Only then did I discover that she simply hadn’t made the mental connection between rabbit pie and the season’s second most recognizable figure.
I’m sorry to report that she found my sorry tale incredibly amusing and informed me, through her giggles, that I was making a fuss about nothing. Whether to prove her point or to punish me for my overreaction I’m not sure, but the next year she served up roast lamb.