Basket Case

It’s no secret that I have a pretty liberal sweet tooth. Of course with age, my palate has become more refined-(if not my waistline). Sadly, candy and I are no strangers. I can’t help it, it’s in my DNA. In fact, I come from a long line of “sweet” people. Let’s just say my family should have invested in sugar cane and leave it at that. Get-togethers and occasions were always times for great food and yummy desserts. And holidays? Don’t even get me started! I’m the girl who’s always going to start her diet right after the holiday-starting with Halloween candy, then cruising through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s…which then segues right into Valentines and Easter. What’s a poor girl to do?

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Well I’ll tell you what this one did, and it ain’t pretty. Bear in mind I was four at the time, and no one was more sugar and spice and everything nice than me-well the sugar and spice part’s true, anyway.

It was Easter, a particularly good candy holiday, as far as holidays go. I was anticipating a chocolate bunny with yummy ears, (hopefully solid and not hollow), and all my other seasonal favorites waiting to greet me Easter morning in my Easter basket.

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My sister and I shared a room and had wooden bunk beds. She’s 2 1/2 years older so she got the top. I got the bottom bunk and the ladder hanging down in my face. I generally liked to torment her by pushing up with my feet on the slats and chatting away all night. (Until the hall light would suddenly snap on and I would get my comeuppance. I didn’t have the kind of parents who gently reminded me it was nighty-night time. My kind of parents act rashly and ask questions later.)

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Easter, to me was like Christmas. Who knew but what the Easter bunny might be watching me? So I’d better be on my best behavior!

My new pink gingham check Easter dress was all laid out, with shiny white patent leather shoes, lacy anklets, and my favorite part-white patent little snap purse. Nested inside was a new hanky and spiffy white gloves, along with Chapstick and change for the offering plate at church. Jammies on, lights out! I envied my sister, in her pink sponge rollers-(damn my natural curls!) In my excitement, I would have gladly jabbered away all night, but my sister reminded me what was at stake, so off to dreamland I went.

 

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My sister & me...
My sister & me…

 

When I awoke, the room was still pitch-black, and the house was quiet. Had he come? I hadn’t heard any hopping, or singing, or any of the other stuff I imagined the EB did. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could just make out the shapes of our two Easter baskets. He had been there! And since it was dark-he’d been there not too long ago, either! I got out of bed, careful not to thwack the ladder, which hung by metal hooks off my sister’s bunk.

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All that candy! But this year no bunnies. Instead there was an enormous chocolate egg in each basket, accompanied by the dud candy used as fillers-(but truthfully, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at those either!) The eggs had beautiful cursive writing on them. Loops and swirls-so grown up! I looked at the names, but I was only four and I couldn’t read cursive. After doing an eeny, meeny, miny, mo of sorts, I grabbed a basket and snuck back to bed. Would the chocolate egg live up to it’s hype? I found out swiftly that it did! I then plowed through the back up candy-including the dreaded mellowcremes-yuck! The only candy I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole was the black jellybeans. Only my dad or my grandpa ate the black ones-the harsher the better. With a spicy gumdrop chaser-lordy! Men were tough.

As I raked my hands through the Easter grass, I realized all that was left were those sorry black jellybeans. Oh no! Could I have eaten all that candy? My four-year-old brain, all sugared up, quickly came up with a plan. I sneaked out of my bunk once more, grabbed the other basket and back to my lair. The plan was to divide up the remaining candy evenly with my basket. So what if my big egg was gone? I could surely explain that away. Problem solved!

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Only that’s not what happened. I saw that pretty, big chocolate egg with that pretty cursive handwriting, and I thought to myself, maybe THAT egg says my name…maybe I ate the wrong one. What started out as a nibble on the underside, quickly turned into a gobble, and the egg was history. Crap! What had I done? No way out of this one, I was gonna get it for sure.

I knew I was going to be in a world of hurt, (literally and figuratively), and so the best way out of it would be to deflect the attention onto somebody else, but who? Snore…an answer from above! My sister! Only I knew I couldn’t blame her outright and get away with it. She was the oldest and the responsible one, I was the naughty one always getting caught. Then I got an idea. An awful, idea. I got a wonderful, awful idea! (Coincidentally, this was the first year The Grinch played on TV, 1966.)

So I did the only thing I could do. Go big or go home. I ate all of the candy except the black jellybeans. I then dumped mine into hers-and set the basket back in place, as if nothing had ever happened, and scooted back to bed. My thinking was this- if Santa could leave coal, then the Easter Bunny could leave black jelly beans to those who deserved it-and as her little sister, I believed she had earned each and every one of those black jelly beans. Now to convince the folks…

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The next morning, there was indeed a come-to-Jesus meeting, but I didn’t get to wear my pink dress, my shiny patent shoes, or my button-up gloves.

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I sat on the hassock like a hot seat, while the inquisition went on. I didn’t understand it, my plan was foolproof. How could my parents possibly be questioning the Easter Bunny’s judgement? It wasn’t my fault if he left me the good stuff and her black jelly beans-ask him!

They didn’t understand my faulty logic. But how could I have known? I quickly learned that day-terrible truths. And not only about the Easter Bunny, but Santa and the Tooth-fairy, too! (and I’d never even lost a tooth).

It was an unforgettable Easter all right. And not just because it’s the only time I’ve ever cried over candy!

I was escorted to my room, tears streaming, to face my sisters wrath. My sister sat with her sorry basket of black jelly beans up on the top bunk. Older but wiser, I was just inconsolable. She leaned over the side, hanging upside down, and began quietly talking to me in my bunk-just like always. I kept waiting for her to pile on more misery, sure it was some kind of trap, but she didn’t. In fact, she was kind. She never even mentioned her loss, or my bad behavior. I think she wisely knew that I lost even more that day than she did. But I gained something too, (and I’m not talking pounds). Perspective. The way she treated me that day changed how I felt about her. She went from being my bossy, mean, controlling sister, to being my friend. My champion, even. She had her chance to rub it in every Easter, and she never did. Like the Grinch, my heart was changed that day. I tried to steal my sisters Easter. She taught me that Easter isn’t in an Easter basket, it’s in a selfless act of compassion and love.

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Easter is the only time of year when it’s safe to put all of your eggs in one basket.

~anonymous

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My kiddos, circa 1993.

* little girl w/chocolate egg picture courtesy of: https://seattle98.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/retro-easter-eggs/

Sent from my iPad

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