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Hard-Boiled Holidays

March 28, 2012

Just look at those sorry smiles. We probably thought we were having fun here.

I come from humble farm stock.  And my parents approached most seasonal traditions in a very wholesome, pious manner.  They never wanted to confuse us by giving us a lot of things we’d enjoy — you know, because they didn’t want to make religious holidays about things we’d enjoy.

So they took us to church instead so we could unenjoy ourselves while playing hangman on the offering envelopes.

My Christmas Past:   Oranges in our stockings?  New work boots?  A boat Pa whittled from a scrap of balsa wood?  Oh, thank you, Ma and Pa!  And God bless us, every one!

Okay, so I got toys for Christmas.  I got a bike once.  And a couple of Cabbage Patch dolls.  And maybe a pair of coveted Guess brand jeans.  But I can assure you that, in between, there were plenty of socks and flannel sheets and, God help us, books.  And I can’t even confirm whether I received the Guess jeans as a gift because actually now I think I just willed them into existence.

And, folks, that right there shows the power of prayer.

My Easter Past:  Hard-boiled eggs we get to dye?  And then we get to give them back to you so you can hide them in the backyard without us ever having to believe in the Easter bunny bunk?  Oh, thank you, Ma and Pa!  And God bless us, every one!

Okay, so I got a lot of candy on Easter.  Here’s how it worked.  My parents gave us hard-boiled eggs.  Mmmm.  What a treat!  Then later I ran next door to my best friend Katie’s house and ate all the things she didn’t want from her Easter basket.  If I was lucky, she’d sever me a limb off her chocolate bunny.  Mostly I think it was just marshmallow peeps encrusted with plastic grass.  You know, leftover crap.  I never once received a ribbon-clad rabbit or any sort of fancy crystallized sugar egg.  Nor a mechanical chick walking in place while popping out of an egg.  Nor a real chick walking in place while popping out of an egg.

I got a real egg though.  And it even tasted just like a real egg.  Except maybe a bit yolkier.

Look closely at this photo.  Notice anything pathetic?  Besides the heat-stricken dog who’s overdue for a haircut.

Perhaps you noticed the yellow Tupperware bowl that I used to collect our hard-boiled eggs.  Oh.  The basket my brother is holding?  I think I got that from a Sunday school teacher.  She probably felt sorry for me.  So my brother and I had to share it between us.  Probably had to set an egg timer to tell us whose turn it was to hold the genuine Easter basket.  That would make sense anyway because the egg timer was already on hand, having just been used to make the eggs.

Note there is no plastic grass in that Tupperware bowl.  My eggs probably rolled around and knocked together until a couple of them cracked open.  And then they probably rotted inside.  And then I could’ve eaten them and died.

I suppose someone could’ve kindly pulled out some grass from our lawn to stick in there.  But the grass probably had fertilizer on it.  And it would’ve spread to the eggs.  And then I could’ve eaten them and died.

I would be eating tainted food, but my soul would remain untainted by holiday commercialism.  And when I died, I’d go to Heaven.  Win-win!  Amen.

By the way, while you were reading this post, I thought it might be a nice touch if I played the world’s tiniest tinniest violin.

That is, I thought I’d play some sympathy string music simulated on my circa 1983 keyboard that I got for Christmas.

Oh, you didn’t hear that?  Yeah, that’s because then I remembered my parents never gave me a keyboard for Christmas.   Nope.

Even balsa wood has its limits.

62 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2012 6:29 am

    My mother used to eat all the candy she had thoughtfully bought early, then forget to replace it. One year I got a fruit cocktail can in the basket and a promise to make jello after church.

    • March 28, 2012 8:12 am

      Holy crap, that’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. Perhaps all week. I hope this cocktail basket did not follow your mother-daughter date night to see Coma.

      • March 28, 2012 9:38 am

        It’s all true- wait until you talk about your first bra shopping trip….have I got a tale.

  2. March 28, 2012 6:42 am

    You’re breaking my heart. Colored eggs and no candy. What could be sadder? Oh wait, 8 days of dry, tasteless matzah, that’s sadder than colored eggs and a friend’s Easter candy leftovers. Can I borrow your violin?

    • March 28, 2012 8:06 am

      Hey, I don’t feel that sorry for you because what about macaroons? When I attended my first seder, like a dutiful culturally-clueless guest, I got online and looked up what I could bring without looking like a schumuck. Macaroons! Hooray for macaroons! I could sit and eat those all day, every day. Beats the heck out of marshmallow peeps.

      • March 28, 2012 8:31 am

        You’re right. Macaroons are better than marshmallow peeps, but even they can’t make up for having to eat matzah for 8 days.

      • March 29, 2012 2:25 pm

        I see your matzah and I raise you hamballs.

      • March 29, 2012 3:26 pm

        I don’t know what a hamball is, but you win by virtue of the name alone!

  3. Tony permalink
    March 28, 2012 6:54 am

    Sad times, sis. But I am glad we could share in the misery… :D

    • March 28, 2012 8:07 am

      Yes, thank God we had each other.

      • Tony permalink
        March 28, 2012 10:13 am

        btw, is that the only outfit I wore? The green striped sport socks were the perfect touch, eh?

      • March 29, 2012 2:23 pm

        Yes, you’ll notice several people pointed this out. I guess you were never short on tan turtlenecks and brown pants. I’m glad you mixed it up a bit with the socks and shoes.

  4. March 28, 2012 8:06 am

    Angie,
    You are way too funny. Now is your chance to have an over-the-top Easter with your kids.
    I am so glad you are writing this stuff down.
    Amy

    • March 28, 2012 8:11 am

      Thanks, Amy. I’ve really had to force myself to join in with the candy-toys type of holiday traditions. Quite often I feel this thing welling up inside me that says “My kids don’t need this crap! It’ll make them spoiled! Let’s just raise them on love!” But I have to push that right back down in the name of breaking-the-cycle.

      By the way, my parents in current day? Yeah, they do the full-on Easter candy egg hunt extravaganza for my kids. Grandparents are like aliens to me.

  5. March 28, 2012 8:44 am

    Speechless. I can’t believe you didn’t get to experience the joy of stealing candy from your brother’s Easter basket. My sister left hers sitting too long (weeks) and so I got to eat both hers and mine. Aaaah! She never learned.

    • March 29, 2012 10:37 am

      I’ve heard those Easter basket larceny stories and feel sad that I missed out on a whole new opportunity to fight with my brother. I’d say to your sister, “You snooze, you lose.” I love that saying except when I’m on the other side of it.

  6. March 28, 2012 8:47 am

    We got candy along with the colouring and hiding of hardboiled eggs. Only my parents weren’t willing to get up early enough to hide eggs outside (and overnight would ensure that our yard was the racoon hangout of the season), so they were hidden inside. after the bad year, my parents wrote down where they hid them on a cheatsheet, and made sure that the number hidden was, in deed, the number collected. That was not a nice easter… or more specifically, three months after easter… wow, I hate hard boiled eggs, more so when they boiled with a teeny crack and then they were dunked in dye.

    • March 29, 2012 10:41 am

      Raccoons completely freak me out. The idea of raccoons waiting in the wings for my sweet and innocent Easter eggs would be the stuff of nightmares.

      What about when it cracks upon boiling and that tiny bit of egg white bubbles out and forms a wart-like growth on the egg. Did you dye over the egg wart? I think I heard that if you get the one with the egg wart, you get like 20 years of good luck or something. Okay, I made that up.

  7. Beth permalink
    March 28, 2012 8:59 am

    Is your Tony wearing the same tan turtleneck and brown pants in the Easter pictures as he is in the “Bratass” picture? Did he not have any other clothes? A closet full of tan turtlenecks and brown pants? Why do they even make tan turtlenecks? They’re blah on blah!! I mean,Tony’s working the look, but the rest of us probably could never pull it off!

    • March 29, 2012 10:46 am

      You know what is weird (besides that I didn’t notice Tony’s clothes until about four blog readers called my attention to it)? I think that has to be a different tan turtleneck and brown pants than shown in the Bratass photo at right. The photo at right was taken (judging by my hairstyle) about four years prior to the Easter photo, and my brother didn’t have any type of growth issue that would enable him to wear the same pants for four years in a row. So my mom must’ve just stocked his closet with a sea of varying-sized tan turtlenecks and brown pants. Score!

      Ah, the ’70s and ’80s were such a grand time for clothing.

  8. March 28, 2012 9:18 am

    Okay, my eyes are dry now so I can type. I was laughing so hard, flashing back, sympathizing and empathizing that I almost didn’t make it. All seven of us were candy starved from Lent. We would wake up to a basket of differing sizes, depending on age, with a layer of green Easter grass, strands of which would somehow find it’s way into your underwear months later. Three baskets carefully placed in the doorway of the girl’s room, and four in front of the boy’s room. A layer of jelly beans, a colored egg that we had colored the day before, those almost uneatable yellow marshmallow chicks, and a hollow chocolate bunny of differing size depending on age. We were not allowed to touch it! A candy-starved Lenten “faster” looking at a basket of sugar infested treats could not touch the basket until after Mass which we were amazingly ready for by seven o:clock. The rest of the day it was, “Can I have a piece of candy from my Easter Basket?” And a “piece” was all you better get. Later in the day, the older kids would pilfer candy from the younger ones who surely wouldn’t miss a jelly bean or two. “Mom…he ate one of my jelly beans!”

    We hid Easter eggs with the neighbor kids, like hide and seek. One or two would inevitably be missed waiting to fester and rot in the hot summer heat of the back yard. “What the hell is that smell?”

    Thanks for the morning laugh. I owe you.

    • March 29, 2012 10:52 am

      It sounds like your parents possibly loved you, judging by the fact that you actually got Easter candy. I have no sympathy for the fact that you had to wait to get all your many, many great pieces of Easter candy. See, now it feels like you’re just rubbing it in.

      Question: How is it that all your comments always end up in italics? I can do this within my own blog but not when I’m commenting on other people’s blogs. This is all so very confusing to me. Please, share what you know.

      • March 29, 2012 11:18 am

        I do it on purpose by using the html code at the beginning of my comments for italic. I’m not anything close to skilled using html code, but I learned it somewhere. Just type at the beginning. Maybe I better put it in parentheses in case it just reads the code, but don’t put the bunny ears in the code. “” Let me know if it works.

      • March 29, 2012 11:20 am

        Well that didn’t work. I’ll spell it out. It’s a less than sign, an e, and then an m, and then a greater than sign.

      • March 29, 2012 11:26 am

        You lost me at html.

        Just kidding. I think I’ll leave this to an expert and continue on with my regular boring way of commenting with no ability to emphasize a word other than to SCREAM IT IN ALL CAPS.

  9. March 28, 2012 9:47 am

    This sounds all too familiar! My parents were concerned about the whole holiday commercialism thing too. So, the reason you live to this day, I’m guessing, is because you didn’t eat the cracked/tainted/rotten hardboiled eggs?

    • March 29, 2012 10:54 am

      Yes, I dodged a bullet there, Audrey — a bullet that probably would’ve tasted like rotten eggs. And I’ve yet to hear of a child falling ill after eating a rotten chocolate bunny.

  10. March 28, 2012 10:55 am

    I don’t know what’s funnier, your posts or your commenters. You ALL crack me up.

    That photo…too precious. It reminded me of my siblings and me with our “homemade” baskets (we didn’t get anything cool either) standing in beautiful wildflowers (a/k/a/ weeds) in our backyard. It was always church all day and tic-tac-toe in the pew, ’cause my mom was a church lady. The real side-splitter? My brother’s pale yellow 3-piece suit and white shoes — an Easter fashion statement perhaps on the part of my mother. He was ten. My 10-yr-old would never have allowed me to take that photo.

    But we easter-egg-hid-and-hunted year ’round. All the neighborhood kids pooled their plastic eggs it — one team hid, the other team found. Repeat until dark. We were all very pragmatic in the days without video games, I guess.

    • March 29, 2012 10:58 am

      Nothing brings out the most adorable, yet humiliating, teeny-tiny suits like an Easter church service. To me, pale-colored suits always look a bit like Don Johnson meets Colonel Sanders. On your brother though, I bet it was nothing short of social suicide.

      Homemade baskets? Do tell. Is this real wicker basket-weaving we’re talking about here or did you make these from paper?

      • March 29, 2012 5:40 pm

        My mom was a pre-school teacher at the church, so we made EVERYTHING. I’m remembering that plastic needlepoint mesh formed into bowls and messily yarn-stitched by hand by us kids. Not pretty. But functional — like the Tupperware bowl! Only your bowl could actually be used for something at a later time. LOL

      • March 29, 2012 5:59 pm

        Yes, later my bowl could be used to store egg salad made from the hard-boiled eggs we didn’t eat.

        Your mom is nothing short of brilliant mixed with a dash of sweatshop foreman.

  11. March 28, 2012 12:02 pm

    Oh! This is just so heart-wrenching! A sawed-off chocolate bunny leg? I feel bad, I really do! You poor girl! And your poor brother in the same outfit he seems to always break out for special photo events!

    But I laughed because, well, grass-encrusted Peeps? That reminded me of my older brother. He’d stash his Easter candy in his desk and find it still in there about five years later. And then he’d eat it. Yeah. no shelf life for Peeps.

    My dad was so good at hiding the eggs, every year there would be one we would fail to find. Until the smell found us. Good times.

    • March 29, 2012 11:02 am

      Peeps and cockroaches. That’s what we’ll find left on earth should we ever experience a nuclear holocaust. Cockroaches won’t even touch the peeps, so the peeps will probably even outlast the cockroaches.

      Yes, I’ve come to the conclusion that my brother’s wardrobe circa 1979-1983 only included tan turtlenecks and brown pants. Sort of like Wilma Flintstone, who famously had a closet comprised solely of white cavewoman dresses. I’m sure it made for easy dressing.

  12. March 28, 2012 12:06 pm

    I’m pretty sure there is no statute of limitations on child abuse.

    • March 29, 2012 11:03 am

      Thanks, Elyse. May I consult with your husband-lawyer? (Not to be confused with unfrozen-caveman-lawyer.)

      • March 29, 2012 12:09 pm

        Sure. I’m sure it’s right in his practice area — international law. But there’s nothing he likes more than giving legal advice on issues he knows nothing about!

      • March 29, 2012 12:14 pm

        I love uninformed opinions! That sounds like a lot of political pundits I know.

      • March 29, 2012 12:24 pm

        Then you’re on. We get 80% of the damages, though. That’s traditional, especially when your lawyer knows nothing.

  13. March 28, 2012 12:08 pm

    We have so much in common, my Easter “eggs” – a handful of jelly beans – came in a green margarine container (remember when it was popular for products to be packaged in containers that could be used for bowls and glasses, or was that just my mom?) set next to my bed.

    So I guess Easter must be coming up – those jelly beans had a lasting effect.

    I was going to ask how you are with your kids, but found the answer in the comments above. Yep, my mom too – little Miss Easter Bunny for the grandkids.

    • March 29, 2012 11:10 am

      I think you and I could’ve lived the same childhood. Always a pleasure to hear from another child of the Ingalls. Yes, I remember margarine containers-turned bowls and jelly jars-turned drinking glasses. Not to be confused with Burger King marketing campaign-turned Star Wars drinking glasses. Overall, those were good times.

  14. John-Paul permalink
    March 28, 2012 12:17 pm

    “Daddy why do we get chocolate bunny rabbits at Easter?”

    “…”

    “Daddy?”

    “…”

    “Daddy? I said, why-”

    “Yeah, yeah, I heard you. Have another Easter egg.”

    • March 29, 2012 11:13 am

      Reminds me of (my idol) Jon Stewart once saying (paraphrased), “Where did it go from Jesus’ resurrection to hiding eggs? Did Jesus hate eggs? Did Jesus say, ‘Now when I come back to earth, I don’t want to see any eggs. Get rid of all the eggs. No, really. I’m allergic’.”

  15. March 28, 2012 12:51 pm

    Your pathetic tale of childhood deprivation really tugs at my heart-strings. Yup. Really, really a lot.

    At least your mom dressed you up like Little Bo Peep to get in the spirit of things – where’s your shepherdess crook?

    • March 29, 2012 11:17 am

      Peg, I love when you pop by here. It warms my heart.

      If you click and enlarge the top photo, you’ll see that I’m wearing a dashing pair of brown sandals over top of white tights. See? Little Bo Peep would’ve never had the fashion sense to pull together that ensemble.

      Wait a second. Little Bo Peep — Marshmallow Peeps. Hey, this is starting to get really weird.

  16. March 28, 2012 1:45 pm

    I love how your brother appears to be wearing the exact same outfit he’s wearing in the permanent picture on your blog.

    • March 29, 2012 11:21 am

      You are the fourth person who noticed! I wasn’t one of them. You all know my brother better than I even do.

      To defend him, I wanted to say that the permanent blog photo at right was taken about three to four years prior to the Easter photo. So there is no way those can be the same clothes. But then, how is that really defending him — because that means he must’ve owned multiple sizes of tan turtlenecks and brown pants that he wore on multiple occasions. Good grief, that is much worse.

  17. Emily permalink
    March 28, 2012 1:50 pm

    Angie, you weren’t missing much–Easter chocolate is so cheap, it tastes like fake, sugary wax, probably because it’s mostly made of sugar and wax. I liked it well enough as a kid, but now that I’m older (and vegan as well), my favourite Easter candy is Whittaker’s dark chocolate (technically, not a seasonal chocolate, but whatever), and Jelly Belly jelly beans–the regular kind, NOT the Bertie Botts Every Flavour Bean kind. I don’t want “ear wax” in my Easter basket…….it’s even worse than caranuba wax.

    • March 29, 2012 11:34 am

      I agree 100% on your chocolate assessment, Emily. Easter chocolate is the worst of the worst in terms of quality. Especially those chocolate foil-wrapped eggs that taste like cocoa-scented candles. However, I can tell you that when I was a kid there was no such thing as bad chocolate, and I wouldn’t have known any different. Because, speaking of wax, you’re talking to a person who once ate chocolate-flavored wax in the form of her lip balm. And liked it.

      Ear wax? What? Do I want to know about this?

      • Emily permalink
        March 30, 2012 12:25 pm

        Actually, I much preferred the foil-wrapped eggs to the big, hollow chocolate Easter bunnies (although they’re both pretty bad), but you’re right–to a kid, there’s no such thing as bad chocolate, and even “bad candy” is a rare breed, usually confined to candy that contains black licorice, sesame seeds, or honeycomb.

      • March 30, 2012 1:08 pm

        So true. I wrote a post about bad candy during Halloween, and I agree that even bad candy will not be wasted. Unless we’re talking black licorice.

  18. March 28, 2012 3:49 pm

    But you DID have the obligatory frilly, uncomfortable Easter dress. Did you get the black patent shoes, too?

    • March 29, 2012 11:39 am

      (Sigh.) Okay. You’re going to make me reveal my footwear. I only noticed this after I posted these photos. If you click on the first photo to enlarge it, you will clearly see that I’m not wearing the official Easter garb of shiny black patent leather shoes. No, I’m wearing tan sandals with socks.

      Even back then I was a fashion trailblazer.

  19. March 28, 2012 6:07 pm

    You not receiving a 1983 keyboard on which to play simulated violin is the saddest non-sound in the world.

    I hope you let your parents know daily how close you were to dying from eating eggs that could get poisoned at any second.

    • March 29, 2012 11:43 am

      I think I have a button on my imaginary 1983 keyboard that would perfectly simulate the sound of me puking on my nearly-poisoned 1983 eggs. And then I can add a jazz beat to that sound and quite possibly compose a work of art that would make Beethoven punch himself in the face.

  20. Davis permalink
    March 28, 2012 10:13 pm

    I recently taught a class in memoir writing wherein I advocated writing many short stories rather than one birth-to-senility tome. Your collected blogs would comprise a great memoir for your grandchildren or great grandchildren. I hope you are saving these in some format that will exist in 50 years and not on cassette tapes or 8mm home movies like I did.

    I can hear your great grandchildren now.

    “Zeddie, are you thinking what I’m thinking about our great grandma?”
    “Yes. I hope it’s not a genetic thing.”

    • March 29, 2012 11:47 am

      What about if I printed all of them on paper and stored them in a cardboard box flung into our damp storage shed? No, really. That’s what I was thinking of doing. Would that be a good idea?

      When someone says “back up your files” or “do you have a back up on your files”, I feel like they’re talking in Klingon language. I usually answer that question with, “What about if I printed all of them on paper and stored them in a cardboard box flung into our damp storage shed?”

      Zeddie is an excellent name.

  21. Rachael permalink
    March 29, 2012 8:40 am

    I very vividly remember hunting for these eggs around Grandpa and Grandma’s house <3 Great story cousin!!

    • March 29, 2012 11:29 am

      Ah, yes. Those days. The egg hunt you are referring to was when I was nearly a teenager and did consist of plastic eggs containing candy that I got to help hide for my younger cousins who never knew a candyless Easter. Thanks for stopping by and reading, Rachael!

  22. March 29, 2012 3:05 pm

    You are a funny girl. And yes, the tiny violin is making me want to cry. But this is still a really good post, and I love the fact that your parents taught you to un-enjoy the holidays.
    Hopefully you can pass the suffering on to your own kids.

    • April 3, 2012 11:09 am

      Thanks, Les. Funny Girl — are we talking about Barbra Streisand again? To break the cycle of holiday candy deprivation, I’m making sure my children have a mouthful of cavities by their fifth birthday. Cavities should be our way of showing our children that we love them. Now I think I’ll go embroider this on a throw pillow.

  23. March 29, 2012 3:51 pm

    Your making me feel so much better about my childhood. We at least had a chocolate bunny to look forward to after church. I think I’ve overcompensated for my daughter. I can’t wait to hear what stories she’ll have to tell.

    • April 3, 2012 11:07 am

      Thanks, Amy. I hope you’ll remember the sad-girl-without-the-chocolate-bunny-on-Easter every time you worry that you’re overcompensating with your daughter.

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