If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about Easter traditions and how they don’t grow. My example is an entry for Dee's diary and is in continuity with the Unauthorized Liographies.
Here it is, Easter Sunday yet again. As I write this, I look out the window as the snowpack slowly melts away and what my late father-in-law John would call the menfolk compare notes on how best to load a dishwasher to cope with a holiday meal. As they do so, I find myself thinking of the list I found wedged in one of the old photo albums that Mike inherited the other day: my mother-in-law Elly’s bucket list. Like most people, she’d compiled a list of things she either wanted to make happen or have happen to her before it was okay for her to pass away. Also, like most people, the list is filled with rather conventional items: “get my Bachelor of Arts", “experience sincere gratitude from my kids”, “learn to work a computer” and so on and so forth. The odd entry, the entry that confused all of us was “17: Convince John that the bunny box is a good idea and will work.”
What I initially thought was that she was making an odd reference to the late Butterscotch’s little hutch, long left abandoned after his loss soured Meredith and Robin on the idea of animals in the house on purpose because it hurts too much to lose them. Was she toying with countering John’s campaign to get a dog by showing Mike and Liz that bunny rabbits were better? Not as such, as it turned out. This is because we’d showed Uncle Phil a jpeg of the list and he’d talked at length about a tradition that Elly wanted to share with the kids. The idea seemed to be that the parents would buy all the candy and put in all in one big box so that the kids would learn to share. This makes it pretty much the Richards family’s own personal Festivus pole. It’s also proof that my mother was right about Elly having a screw loose.
Oh, I won’t lie here. If she’d pitched the idea back when I got in my fool head that Mike’s being a corporate stooge was actively killing him while churning out abuse porn and passive-aggressive asides about people he’d thought had slighted him were saving him, I’d have given it a fair shot. Funny what running yourself ragged for no reason does to you, right? The exhaustion of trying to be pretty much a single parent would have probably convinced me that the collapse of Operation: Guaranteed Failure would have been on the children for being normal and sharing things like Hitler shared the Sudetenland. The odd thing, the thing that started me back to something like sanity is realizing that something stupid I thought Mike came up with on his own had been suggested to him by his dad: the stupid idea that on Easter, I made chocolate breast-milk. Thanks, John. Appreciate that! The collapse of that inane tradition in the making and John’s waffling response started making me wonder where his common sense was parked. Sure, he’d put the kibosh on Operation: Guarantee A Fistfight Because You’re Too Cheap and Lazy To Buy Quality Gift Baskets That Will Last Until Your Children Ride The Benzoyl Peroxide Train but it was for a stupid reason: he didn’t have one when he was a kid.
That’s right. The only reason he’d saved Mike and Liz from a screeching session about how they ruined Easter and made it all worthless was that he couldn’t allow them to have something he didn’t have. Too bad that I had to climb down my own Festivus pole to see how nuts Elly really was. You’d have thought a kid who used to hate feeling like a trained seal would not do that to her kids but you’d be reckoning without the “I’ll show my mother how it’s really done” factor. You’d also be reckoning without the people on the television special about her little troupe giving me a villain edit. Funny how it took local access television to start slapping some sense into me. Ah, well. We laugh about it now. We won’t laugh about the bunny box because John was right about it being a dumb idea even if it was for a dumb reason.