Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Easter Snaik

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I never thought about religion much when I was a kid, save for my Irish Catholic BFF's mom, who thought I had the devil in me, God (and hell) talks. My mom was a Lutheran who thought that religion was done wrong in America. So, we weren't any particular religion at all and I got to explore faith any which way I liked. And because I think I screamed so much the few times my mom tried taking me church services and Sunday school that our family was asked to never return. Of course, Easter being what it is, I knew the story of the resurrection and such from my mom and from said BFF (and BFF's mom).

My dad is a funny guy who isn't particularly religious. Growing up, he loved Easter because he always got a box of Whitman's chocolates and tons of other sweets. He HATED dying Easter eggs (aka Spring Spheres), sorta. He really hated the part where young children with excited fingers grabbed at permanent die in our house. If it were up to him, it would have been an 'in the grass at the neighbor's house' activity. I think he died a little inside each Easter and there were times I was surprised he didn't stroke out (like when my nieces and nephew died eggs in their toddler years).

There were several rules when it came to egg dying. These rules were debated passionately by my parents and these debates sometimes ended in threats of divorce. Other times it would end in a snarky kid saying 'Cut it out! We are making eggs for Jesus!'. Why we were making eggs for Jesus, I have no idea. Two-thousands years of hard-boiled eggs has got to wear thin on a Messiah, but then again I suppose he could change them into little cupcakes or whatever trendy snack en vogue (Dear Jesus, I hear doughnuts are the next big thing!).

The first rule is that you must never use copper pans to boil your eggs. Or is it aluminum? This would start the parental debate as my mom would have to prove to my dad that her stock pot contained no offending element, even though she had the same pot for like ever.

The second rule was the Rule of Paas. Never, ever could anything but the ORIGINAL Paas Easter egg dye be used in our house. Period. No tye-dye eggs. No fancy colors. There are 12 (or was it 9?) colors acceptable and those colors were dictated by the Paas people. No Paas dye, no Easter. End of story. I still get a little apprehensive whenever my mother-in-law pulls out something other than the traditional Paas egg dying kit before Easter. We will not tell my dad that my son hasn't ALWAYS used Paas's original kit-- it might kill him.

The final rule was that you must use a white crayon to make the most important egg of them all: The Easter Snaik egg. And yes, its S-N-A-I-K. It was the only time a misspelled word was appropriate and your egg would be spared the infamous Library of Congress red pen (all our pens came from the Library of Congress-- heck, until I was 9, I thought everyone got their pens from the LoC). While my parents corrected my spelling until I was 32 years old, this special and holy spelling spelling of 'snaik' was a crucial part of our Easter tradition-- the Holy Grail of all our holiday celebrations.

So, my dad would draw this 'snaik' in white crayon on an egg and then write the words 'Easter Snaik' underneath (that)**. Yet, this is no ordinary snaik. This snaik has 4 legs with feet, 3 polka-dots and is always smiling, open mouthed with his forked snaik tongue sticking out.

It wasn't until I was much older that I realized the gross contradiction between Easter and the snaik. Later I learned that most of the religious traditions that our culture engages in are actually NOT Christian, but rather have deep pagan roots. Bunnies have nothing to do with Jesus. Eggs are for fertility, celebrated during the Spring Equinox. And as a parent living in a very judeo-christian world, where poking fun at Jesus and religion (or atheism?) isn't readily accepted (unless you are famous and a comedian), my dad found the most amusing ways to poke fun at the inherent contradiction between mono-theism and poly-theism.

This years Easter Snaik Egg

My dad made his point in a way that his children could marvel at (and shock her friends parents at the same time). He made it so we came to love the tradition for the simplest human and most godly reason-- the love of ones family. I have no doubt that God has a sense of humor and is decorating his own Easter Snaik egg with his own son.

 ** If you didn't get that aside, than you obviously don't read Cake Wrecks

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