Liv was never a fan of the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or especially, the tooth fairy. She found it repulsive that some giant rodent was in our back yard, hiding a basket of candy for her. It bothered her, especially when he brought all the things that she loved:white chocolate bunnies instead of milk chocolate, malted milk balls, Cadbury eggs, eggs filled with strawberry filling.
"How does he know what I like? Does he watch me?"
She was too smart for her own good. She felt the same way about Santa Claus, but more so, because he didn't just stay in the back yard, but CAME INTO OUR HOUSE. And she found it sickening that we were supposed to leave cookies and milk for him. Why reward someone for sneaking around in your house when you were asleep? That was her reasoning.
The tooth fairy was the worst, though. The thought that some little old lady fairy would fly into her room, feel under her pillow for her tooth and then leave money for her was just too much for her to handle. First, why was it okay with me that some being, even if it was a supernatural one, was entering her room and feeling around on her bed? And for what? Her teeth?
She was noticeably shaken.
"Why does she want children's TEETH, Mama?"
She knew the truth behind the stories much earlier than most children because she didn't associate happiness or joy with their presence, but worry and anxiety.
And then, after she was told, she was furious at adults. Why would people that she trusted and liked, LIE to her and deliberately try to frighten her and other little children?
So, no. Easter was never about finding a hidden basket in our back yard. Easter was a basket from Mama sitting on the kitchen table when she came downstairs for breakfast.
I was fine with it.
We always spend Easter at my sister's house and it is not always a fun experience. As longtime readers know, I am the lone liberal Democrat in a family full of very devout conservative Republicans. Any get-together is capable of turning into a war of words, especially with my extremely bigoted brother in law.
But, we go. Or Liv and I do. My sister hides Easter baskets all over the house for her grandchildren and for Liv. And my wealthy sister is an extremely generous basket maker. Each basket is tailor made for the child. She always puts a white chocolate bunny in Liv's basket and gift certificates to Anthropologie, Dick's Sporting Goods, and/or Homer's Record Shop. She is extremely generous and Liv is extremely grateful.
My sister is a gifted cook. She makes a big ham, platters of au gratin potatoes, asparagus, homemade buttermilk biscuits, fruit salad, regular salad, olive, cheese, crackers, celery, and carrot stick platters and there is always something odd, but fun. This year it was sweet and sour chicken and rice. Strawberry pie and/or brownies ala mode for dessert. You push away from her table satiated and usually a little sleepy.
This year, Bing has a bad cold, so actually had a good excuse not to attend. It was just Liv and me.
And there was no political talk, religion talk or anything. Nope. This Easter, we bonded over the fact that we all watch and adore The Walking Dead.. We debated the ever interesting question of who you would like to be stranded with from the cast in a zombie apocalypse.
For me, it was easy: Daryl. My brother in law chose Rick. My nephew chose Carol. This caused a hot debate with me. I told him that it would be AWFUL to be stranded with Carol. Sure, she is a good warrior, but she'd also just as soon shoot you as look at you.
"One bad cold and you'd be gone," I told him. "Can't you just see her looking daggers at you for sneezing and possibly alerting stray walkers? I would be leery of falling asleep," I told him.
We all laughed. I realized how nice it is to laugh with my family and how, if we can just get past our political and religious differences, we can actually enjoy each other's company.
There was the fun romp of watching all the kids, big and small, search for their Easter baskets. To the teenager's consternation, the kiddies found theirs first, while they haplessly searched while we adults all yelled at them that they were getting really hot there! Or.....no, no...you're getting cold, colder....
I bragged about Liv's softball successes: two scoreless innings pitching her left handed fast ball and one brilliant home run. Pulled out my phone to show them photos of her leaping in the high jump at a track meet. Her continued run as a straight A student.
Others had plenty to brag about too. A great nephew who makes the most points on his hockey team. A great niece who had been offered a summer internship learning about forensic psychology. My nephew's award for bravery as a police office. His wife's surprise that she is pregnant again.
I held one wiggly one year old in a darling pink poodle dress. Helped a three year when he ran screaming into the house from play outside.. "I have to poop! I have to poop!"
Liv and her two teenaged cousins sat listening to us old timers talk about growing up without cell phones and doing math without calculators. Her cousin who is a little older than she, talked about going to her first prom and how even though she had no date, she had fun, especially at the post prom party where there was a hypnotist who made a football player pretend to be a fashion model on a runway.
The weather, which was forecasting rain, held off and we sat outside in lawn chairs, sipping wine (my favorite chardonnay, an Easter gift from my sister) and flavored water. Another slice of that strawberry pie.
The sun beamed down, warming the day into the high seventies, a high that we have not seen since August.
My sister and I wandered to her garden plot. I have shared some of my heirloom seeds with her and she has babies blooming in her basement, as I do. We walked arm in arm, talking seriously about heirlooms. Our Mother had favored the sweetheart grape, while our Da was a fan of the green zebra. My sister swore that there is nothing finer than a tigerella heirloom on a slice of homemade bread. I argued that, in our family, we pop tommy toes right off the vine and eat them as we garden. We both agree that the black russian and jaune flamme are probably the juiciest. We planned our herb gardens. She will plant sage, thyme and lavender while I will take on rosemary, chives and cilantro. And then we can share the booty.
The one year old needed a diaper change and I lugged her inside the house to do diaper duty. I'd forgotten how luscious a one year old's foot is to nip and how wonderful the resounding giggle is when that happens. Picking her up to take her back to her mother, I sighed with sheer joy as she snuggled into my neck and I inhaled that baby scent that is indescribable but always so familiar, no matter how many years go by.
I sat with two three year olds and read them my absolute favorite Easter book: The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes.
Ate a few black jelly beans because they truly are the best.
When it was time to go home and all the kisses and hugs and promises to keep in touch were finished, Liv and I decided to go for a walk in the park before we went home, work off some of that strawberry pie.
We walked under the last slices of sunshine before the predicted rain would finally arrive. There were new baby ducks in the pond. Several fishers hoping for a bite. A few serious runners. But, most of us were just lollygagging after eating too much ham or roast beast or chicken. Liv took my hand and swung it a little, something she hasn't done in years. I tried not to beam or comment, didn't want to bring too much attention to it and have her stop, embarrassed suddenly to be holding hands with her Mother. We talked about her future, boys and how she loves playing softball almost more than anything.
For the first time, she is unsure what she wants to pursue when she graduates high school.
"There are so many choices!" she mused. I agreed. Told her that she had three more years to decide. She sighed, nodded. I asked her if she thought she might think about going to Trinity in Ireland. She shook her head slowly.
"I know it sounds babyish," she said. "I want to be far enough away that I can be on my own, but close enough that I can get to you within five hours if needed." I smiled. Said that sounded fine to me and not babyish at all, that I was actually glad.
"When I was your age, I would have loved to be as far away from your grandmother as I could," I confessed.
She told me that she feels like she is behind her peers when it comes to boys.
"I like them, but I'm not ready to get serious about one," she said. "I mean, right now, I just want to get A's and make the honor roll and do sports. I don't want to be one of those girls who looks at her cell phone every five minutes, hoping that some guy is texting me."
I didn't comment, just nodded....but inside, I was so relieved that I felt almost weak. I have a pretty daughter with many, many brains in her head. There are lots of cases of whiplash when we go places. Boys watching her. She doesn't seem to notice, and for that...I am thankful. Not yet, I think to myself. Not yet. Please.
We walked for a long time, smiled at all the fat robins who are suddenly everywhere. Just a week ago, it was still so cold that we rejoiced when we saw our first one. Now, they have seemed to come out of everywhere and they are fat and saucy.
Life is a circle. And it's been a long Winter.
We moved toward home. Brought in the leftover brownies that my sister had sent home for us to show Bing. We'll enjoy them during The Amazing Race tonight.
I hope your Easter was as lovely as mine.
Happy Easter, bunnies.