Happy Easter, to all those who celebrate! Easter is one of my favorite holidays. I love the distinct week-long anticipation set by the presence of Holy Week, during which I keep the 1970 Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack on repeat. I love the time of year – April with its showers, crocuses & daffodils, and the budding tips of tree branches. I love the joy behind the day – a belly-laugh type of joy, the type of joy that comes from overcoming something completely unjoyful and making it out the other side. And as a kid, I loved the egg hunts, the candy, and the wind-up toy races that my cousins and I would oversee on the living room floor.
This year, of course, was a little different. When I was young, my family hosted Easter; my mom decorated the house and prepared quite the feast. After she passed, we started going to my grandma’s house, like we do on Christmas, where we could eat out on the deck overlooking the ocean. This year we returned to our dining room, as we had celebrated the day many years earlier. My dad and I watched the livestream of our church service on his computer in the morning, and in the afternoon we took a family photo (in our pjs) and ate our Easter dinner (which looked rather the same as our Christmas Eve dinner). We Facetimed with my uncle, aunt, and cousin to say hello.
Crazy times we’re living in.
My dad, brother, and I have been staying home since my brother and I returned from our trip to Disney on March 13th. I suppose that makes it a month tomorrow. Day 30 of Staying Home, or Quarantine, as many call it. We’ve been fortunate to be able to stay home without it disrupting our own lives too much. My brother has continued to work at the pharmacy, whereas I have stopped working for now at the local coffee shop. My dad started a daily newsletter which he hands out every afternoon and that includes a daily suggestion, quote, walk, meditation, and evening activity. Even though the three of us were living together before this semi-lockdown, the requirement to stay at home has changed the way we interact with each other. We’ve started going on neighborhood walks, and we designate our evening activity more officially: Yahtzee Night, or Animated Movie Night. Also, my room is finally clean. (It’s been disorderly for at least a decade; only took a global pandemic.)
One positive change I’ve noticed is that people have become more intentional about reaching out to each other. I’ve talked to my college friends more in the past few weeks than I have in the past 9 months, which has been wonderful. Last night, my college “house” (~300 people living together with a common dining hall, gym, lawn, and mascot) gathered over a 50-person Zoom call. We had representation from five different class years, many of whom have been graduated for many years. Even without this virus, I wouldn’t be seeing these people. I was so glad that, in reaction to this global separator, someone had the idea to bring the house together, because otherwise I probably would not have had that chance to see old familiar faces.
The matter of fact is, as one of these old familiar faces remarked during that call, this virus has forced people to learn how to be more intentional about their relationships. Before this virus, my contact had dropped off with many of my close college friends living on the opposite coast. Keeping up with people is hard. But, as these times remind us, it’s both important and possible. How do we stay in touch with people in ways other than physically gathering? In Zoom calls – but also in letters. In texts, emails, and calls; in FaceTime dinner dates; in dropping things off at front doors; through windows or six feet apart in driveways. I wrote a paper on sustained friendship during college, and the number one factor for sustained relationships was proximity. Now that we literally can’t have that physical proximity, we are learning how to maintain relationships from a distance.
I’ve had a lot of time during my 30 Days of Staying Home to think and read about the impact of this virus, but I haven’t been able to write about it. Every time I pick up my pen and write a few sentences, I read it back and it sounds like the beginning of a bad sci-fi novel. It continues to feel not quite real; it continues to be challenging to find any good or meaningful words that can capture the immensity and strangeness of an event that has literally affected the whole world, which rarely things manage to do. My friends repeat to each other: “crazy” “how crazy” “this is crazy.”
There’s bad headlines, awful news, anger, grief, fear. But I see many people being more kind to each other. Driving through town I see in windows teddy bears, signs that say “Happy Easter” or “it’s my birthday!” Before I stopped working at the coffee shop, I noticed that the number of my deep conversations with customers increased – suddenly everyone was asking each other “how are you?” and really wanting to know the real answer. Online, stories of goodwill fill my newsfeed. In Italy, people dancing on balconies. Car parades to celebrate birthdays. A father using a laundry basket, spray bottle, and Youtube to replicate a Disney ride for his daughter after their trip was cancelled. These things are wonderful, and they too came from this terrible thing. The type of joy that comes in response to collective hardship is a unique feeling, and a precious one. (John Krasinski has gathered some of these heartwarming stories here and here. It’s well worth the watch, even if it made me cry.)
Just now, I found a present on my front steps from my uncle who drove here all the way from Gloucester to drop it off.
It’s my hope that after this has ended, when people venture back out of their homes, when schedules start to fill up again and our hectic lives start picking back up, that we remember how to reach out to one another. That we continue to ask each other “how are you?” and stick around for the answer. That we don’t forget to look for moments of calm in our lives to spend with loved ones. Remember: Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who walk the way with us. Be swift to love, and make haste to be kind.
Since it’s Easter, I’d like to share an Easter cake recipe. We’ve made these bunny cakes for as long as I can remember. Please enjoy!
I hope you are healthy, well, and feeling loved.
- Use boxed cake mix to bake your cake in two round pans. Any cake works. I use standard yellow cake.
- This is the step that will make or break your bunny. Cut your cakes like so:
- Arrange the pieces of cake to make its head, two ears, and bow tie. There will be two little cake pieces left for you to test to make sure the cake isn’t poisoned or gross (essential).
- Frost that cake. I always struggle with this step (lol). The cut edges of cake on the ears and bowtie are particularly challenging. Sometimes the cake just crumbles. I’m sure you’ll do better than me.
- (Optional) If you’re up to it, use a fork to “fluff” the fur (frosting).
- Pour the bag of shredded coconut into a bowl and add a few drops of green food coloring. Mix it with (uber clean) hands (or maybe a spoon is best for the time being). Add more green as needed; it usually only takes a few drops. It should look like grass.
- Put the grass (coconut) around the cake so it looks like the bunny is lying in grass.
- Use jelly beans for its eyes and nose. Then decorate a fun bowtie! Leftover jellybeans can be placed in little groups in the grass (coconut) like mini eggs.
- Use colored food gel to draw a mouth (and any other desired face accessories).
- (Optional) Add some red food coloring to the frosting to make pink inner ears.
2009 (note the fluffed fur and pink ears)
2020 (minus the coconut grass)
Voila! Honestly this is suitable for any holiday, as long as you dress the bunny appropriately for the weather.