Easter holds a place of high importance in my family’s tradition. One of my mother’s favorite stories is of her little “Tom Boy” and how I hated dresses. She often recalls my ripped dresses and bloody knees before making it into the sanctuary on Easter Sunday. Now I enjoy dressing my own children (including one very “girly girl”) up for the service. But I don’t look forward to the plethora of chocolate bunnies and effects of the vicious sugar and caffeine high that follows for weeks.
I also enjoy dying and hunting eggs with my children including the year I left the eggs on the stove for a long time to ensure they were completely boiled, then left them overnight to ensure they were adequately cooled, only to accidentally drop an egg on the floor revealing liquid gold and my own absent mindedness. My brothers and I, even as adults, relentlessly compete for the dollar bills and quarters my parents still hide in plastic eggs ensuring that the hunt is not over until a loser cries.
I still love Easter despite the year we were accosted by a foul odor escaping from my daughter’s bedroom. I was convinced we had a mouse infestation and tried desperately to get my husband to search out the obviously dead offender to no avail. I armed myself with a mask and gloves and began the hunt. To my surprise, my precious baby (4 at the time) had safely stored all of the eggs she found from the hunt, the month before, rotting away at the bottom of her closet under some overnight bags. Not my proudest moment as a mother.
But, my memories of Easter that are most stark are memories that have to do with my mother and her Easter Bunny Cake.
My mother loves Easter. I hate coconut. Both of these points are equally important.
Every Easter, my mother decorates her house in precious bunnies covered in pastels. As children we died eggs in every conceivable way decorating them and redecorating them until they all turned out a subtle brown color-making finding them in the backyard quite an event requiring a keen eye and undying devotion. My mother, of course, thought they were masterpieces.
Shredded coconut is the most important part of her bunny cake, oh but the texture of shredded coconut-dry and stringy-I cannot get past its effects.
Mom bakes several cakes, cuts the pieces out, and assembles the bunny shape. She ices her bunny and then carefully decorates him with jelly beans, sprinkles, and licorice. But it is the coconut that gives the bunny his fuzzy texture. For years I silently chewed away at the gritty ingredient knowing how hard my mother had worked. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I knew how special the day was to her.
At some point (not at Easter), Mom tried to share some desert with me that was topped with toasted coconut. I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t even think of her tradition; I informed her about my irrational aversion to shredded coconut and how I could not stomach the experience. She never said anything but simply ate her desert on her own, and I am sure I ordered something ridiculously bad for me covered in chocolate and ice cream.
The following Easter, I got the kids ready for church, we went to all the family dinners and Easter egg hunts, and my brothers and I fought over pocket change hidden away in plastic shells. After all of the events of the day, it was time to settle in for Mom’s special Easter Bunny Cake. We headed to the kitchen to admire her handiwork and enjoy a piece of tradition. As I got ready to cut into the cake, I saw a noticeably less-furry bunny on the counter. He was just as colorful and cute as ever, but that year, I ate the best Easter Bunny Cake I had never tasted.