Friday, April 02, 2010

Easter? What's Easter?

It's the end of the Easter weekend, a time when we remember the day the Easter Bunny rose from the grave to punish bad children by giving them bellyaches caused by cheap chocolate from Walmart. Each year we hide eggs in an attempt to confuse his spirit, in the hopes that he will leave our homes and families untouched until the next year.

I joke of course. The Easter weekend is a very integral part of the Catholic faith, as it is for those of other Christian churches and faith traditions. At one time, even those of a more agnostic mindset still used the occasion as a time to be with family and partake in the more secular traditions of the holiday - some universal, some long-standing and personal to the family. Observing tradition (my editor, the lovely Mrs. Leger, hates it when I repeat the same word too many times) is one of the cornerstones of preserving culture and heritage in our society. Leonard Cohen (a man who holds tradition with the greatest of reverence) foresaw almost 2 decades ago that we would one day be compensating for "the hole in our culture" with all sorts of superficial banalities.

I remember when we used to bemoan the commercialization of this or that holiday years ago. If only we could have flashed forward to the present day, to watch as 12 year-olds receive Ipods and X-Box's for Easter while their parents dismissively quip "It's just another weekend to me". In the blink of an eye, generations of a family's cultural identity - of joyous dinners, Easter Egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, and watching the Ten Commandments - is gone. They remain only as curious and dusty artifacts from an age that seems alien to us.

It reminds me of a scene from the brilliant, funny, and touching Canadian movie The Barbarian Invasions (if you've never seen it, leave work and rent it today to see what Obamacare has in store for you). The scene shows a melancholic Catholic priest walking though a basement filled with discarded statuary and relics, remnants of an odd phenomenon that occurred in Quebec in 1966 when, as the priest explains, "...everyone stopped coming to church, and they never came back."

And so it goes with our once-cherished holidays like Easter. Once upon a time kids got dressed up in their new Easter clothes, went to mass, came back and gorged liked Romans on ham (yeah, I get the unfortunate irony of that metaphor) or turkey if you're french, then ate chocolate until they went Linda Blair all over the kitchen floor.

Last year I took some comfort in watching parents and relatives scrambling to get the few remaining chocolate items at a local pharmacy on Easter eve, whispering into their cell phones like cold war double agents when they overheard there were still a few hollow chocolate hens to be had at Walmart. This year the shelves were still looking healthy by Easter Monday. The jerks haven't even discounted the Lindt gold wrapped bunnies yet - and I like my Lindt gold wrapped bunnies.

Let me indulge in an analogy (one my editor isn't completely buying into). There's an entire line of study dedicated to the year 1948. Much of it is left-wing academic nonsense that focuses primarily on the cottage industry of postwar victimization. You've probably heard the old mantra that 20- something year old alternative rock singers like to put into their songs to showcase their vapid intellect about how "They made it past the enemy lines, just to become enslaved on the assembly lines". This irritates me, because it blindly skips over millions of "The Greatest Generation" who took advantage of the GI Bill and forged a nation. But underneath the intellectual bravado lies a certain longing for a time gone by, a faded snapshot of a past that's but a fleeting memory.

We can't stop the march of time, but if we are to jettison tradition, it should be for a better reason than the misguided belief that any Sunday is just another Sunday.

Easter is important to me as a Catholic. I don't preach on this blog, nor do I preach in my personal life. I will admit the secularization of religious days of observance is a sad thing, but to see even the secular remnants be tossed away so easily is all the more tragic. We once watched Charlton Heston part the waves as Mom cooked turkey - or ham for you weird english people. Now moms and dads watch "Jersey Shore" as little Sally downloads the latest Lady Gaga tune to upload into the latest gadget she will soon discard. After all, it's just another Sunday, except with presents.

(Oh - Happy Passover to all our Jewish friends. The Obama administration has abandoned you, but this blog will forever be a steadfast ally.)



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