Food, as in egg coloring, for thought:
Growing up, I believed with all my heart about all things magical. Jolly Ole St. Nick, the itty bitsy fairy that traversed time and space with a single tooth twice its size, mischievous leprechauns and a super cute Cupid, plump with his very own bow.
There were many reasons to believe in their existence. Stories were told, poems written and parents promised all sorts of things would happen if you just believed . . . and most importantly, behaved. Me, I saw neither hide nor hair of any of the above no matter how hard I tried or how late I stayed up. I knew a few things, though; as in somebody somewhere saw their momma kissing Santa Claus. Translation: anything is possible when you’re knee high to a duck and really want a bunch of candy and plastic trinkets cleverly packaged and lined up in rows.
Unfortunately, the only holiday icon I ever did lay eyes on, scared me . . . not to death, but out of my twin canopy bed and sent me sleeping snug as a bug, slap in between my grudgingly accepting and over tired parents for a good two weeks and a half. It went down sort of like this (details are a little fuzzy, my apologies . . . it was 40 years ago, after all):
1977. Jimmy Carter was president and counting his little pills. Luke and Laura were still a good 4 years before figuring it all out on General Hospital and raking in TV cash, while the average citizen was hard pressed to fill a tank full of gas. And the Apple II/XXL word processor that no one knew how to work was hot on the market and totally useless, but Han Solo was on fire and flying large on the Millennium Falcon while fighting the Dark Side and cracking jokes with C3PO.
Me. A 5-year-old little kid, overtired like my parents from a half dozen neighborhood/school Easter egg hunts and trying desperately to fall asleep so I didn’t snore during Easter mass and/or drool on my freshly pressed white eyelet cotton dress with the crisp blue and white gingham bow. Plus, I was overexcited, for sure, about celebrating the resurrection of Christ, but I was also 5, so I was super stoked to wake up and eat candy . . . like, for breakfast.
I had just started to doze, promise y’all, when a gigantic purple rabbit as tall as two Harlem Globetrotters (straight up) with ears bigger than Dumbo and the red headed kid on the cover of Mad Magazine combined lifted my paisley comforter, stared deeply into my eyes and smiled.
I was never the same.
In an instant, my mind flashed furiously back. Being picked up by a young? /old man in a scratching red suit with an equally scratchy fake white beard and smiling through the tears at a camera with the weird words JC Penny glowing from above in the background. I asked myself a hard question . . . Did those pesky teacup-sized leprechauns really turn over all the desks in my kindergarten class and then still hold on to the strength to throw green glitter and even greener rice crispy treats all over the ground? Do fairies really look like real little people and how do they fly with wispy bee-sized wings against the gulf streams, steep mountain ranges and raging hot sunbeams?
My head hurt from all of my 5-year-old existential thinking. Especially, what in the world does a rabbit, purple, red, green or blue have to do with Easter?
I still don’t know the answer to the last question. I guess I could Google it. But I do know the answer to all the others. It’s the very reason we share the same stories and traditions, generation to generation.
And not just regular old magic . . . but magic with a purpose. To keep what we hold sacred and dear and make it just as special for our own children until they are old enough to figure it all out for themselves.
Shel Silverstein wrote in Where the Sidewalk Ends:
Sandra’s seen a leprechaun,
Eddie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblins’ gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I’ve had to make myself.
Magic . . . sweet childhood magic… quite simply, prepares us all to take a leap faith into the unexplained and the utter unknown.
But it is also about believing in BELIEF with your whole heart, all by yourself.
Happy Easter, everyone.