As a holiday season begins under strict social-distancing orders, some families have hosted Passover Seders with Elijah as the only guest at the table, while others are facing the prospect of communally celebrating Christ’s resurrection without setting foot in their church. (Add to this year’s list of Easter miracles: getting the non-tech-savvy, far-away family members jacked in and online in time for the morning-of livestream.)
And for those families with children too young to grasp the meaning of Christianity’s most important holiday but old enough to remember that it involves all manner of candy and colored eggs strewn hither and yon, there may well be a tickle of doubt the Easter Bunny will come this year, given the coronavirus pandemic.
I’m here to tell you the Easter Bunny is definitely coming to town. (And you don’t need to take it from me; New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, recently publicly confirmed what we all know to be true: The Easter Bunny is an essential worker.) For many, Easter will be celebrated colorfully and joyfully despite the global crisis — just as the Whos down in Whoville managed to pull off a festive Christmas after the Grinch tried to stop it by thieving every last can of Who hash.
I know this to be true with every ounce of my being — and after nearly a month of working within arm’s reach of my pantry, my being has a lot of ounces — because I’m hardwired to be an optimist. And this holiday is the embodiment of optimism; the faith that the sun will rise, the rock will roll away and some unexpected good will come out of all the darkness that came before it.
However, if you find yourself arising Sunday without the desire or ability to celebrate, know that the true miracle of Easter — the annual reaffirmation of optimism that requires no religious affiliation — has gotten you across the goal line.
I know this from personal experience. I know this because over the years, I’ve watched joyous celebrations of this very day spin out of circumstances decidedly otherwise. One year, home from boarding school with my best friend, we found ourselves at church — in the company of my family no less — after having had a bit too much of the old Easter grass (so to speak). Both of us were convinced that one of the women in the church choir was singing directly at us the entire time. Easter still came anyway.
Many years later, in the aftermath of having done something that gravely disappointed my parents, I returned home for the first time on Easter Sunday expecting to suffer their well-deserved wrath and indignation. Instead, I was met with open arms and warm hearts.
And, just a few years ago, the sun rose over an Easter in Las Vegas where, through a confluence of strange events, I found myself celebrating the holiday with my in-laws (neither Nevada residents nor particularly enthusiastic gamblers). It was a weekend excursion that inexplicably included a family drive into the surrounding desert, endless Shroud of Turin jokes and an encounter with an extremely old tortoise.
Now, when Easter rolls around like a wobbly egg, I’m ready to roll with the punches. Below are some of the holiday hacks I’ve discovered over the years that might help you as you’re hoppin’ down the bunny trail this time around.
Keep your outlook sunny side up
Although this year’s Easter Bunny may not have the whiskers, the long ears and the jaunty vest (or was the vest just a thing in my childhood?), what the secular personification of Easter and bringer of sweet treats looks like doesn’t amount to a hill of (jelly) beans. After all, when you think about it, how often does anyone actually catch the carrot-munching lagomorph in the act of dropping off the kids’ Easter baskets or hiding eggs?
That’s really the key thing to remember if you’re headed into Easter with a quarantined posse not yet in possession of all its adult teeth.
Much like Santa Claus — the O.G. of magical gift-bringers — the Easter Bunny possesses magical, shape-shifting powers that allow entree into as many homes and gardens as necessary before the sun rises, (remaining at least six feet away from the rest of God’s creatures the entire time, naturally).
The one-task rabbit needs something to leave behind, of course. If you’re among those deputized for basket-bringing duty and you’re too late for Instacart to drop the goods on your doorstep in a timely manner, there are options to be found at the many essential businesses that remain open in L.A. County.
No, not the cannabis dispensaries, silly rabbit. The nearest pharmacy. I know this holiday hack firsthand because, in the course of picking up prescriptions at the Larchmont Rite Aid during the last several weeks, I’ve managed to purchase — and consume — so many bags of egg-shaped chocolate-covered candy that I’m more likely to come down with a Cadbury egg addiction than COVID-19.
Send them scrambling for eggs
If the shuttering of non-essential businesses has left your household in too precarious a financial position to do the Easter Bunny a sugary solid, you’re not out of options. (I told you I was an optimist, right?) That’s because the traditional Easter egg hunt can still safely take place as long as it’s limited to your home and yard and doesn’t involve anyone who’s not part of your household.
Make sure to score refillable plastic eggs. I recently saw some at Whole Foods Market that were made out of a compostable plant-based plastic, so you don’t need to worry about one or two left in the shrubs.
Or cut out and decorate egg-shaped pieces of paper. For an added element of fun, fill the eggs with slips of paper containing a clue that will lead to the next egg (“open the door and the light goes on” — for an egg hidden in the refrigerator, for example), with the final egg containing a tiny gift, poem or promise of a post-isolation treat.
If you have honest-to-goodness eggs on hand — but no access to store-bought dye or decorating kits — there are plenty of creative dying hacks that use things you probably have in your vegetable bin or pantry, including red cabbage (which can turn white eggs blue), yellow onion skins (an orange tint), beets (pink) and turmeric (yellow).
It’s always darkest before dawn
On Easter morning, I’ll wake up knowing that if I made it to this sunrise, I can make it to the one next year too. I know that as next year’s holiday approaches, I’ll almost certainly be thrown a curveball I don’t think I can hit. But I’ll swing enthusiastically anyway. I’ll actually relish it.
And you should too.
And if the current state of the world has you feeling as if just making it to see the sun rise Easter morning counts as some kind of miracle, guess what? It absolutely is.