A tisket, a tasket, I miss my Easter basket

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A tisket, a tasket, I miss my Easter basket

One of the many ways my parents seriously warped me and my siblings as children had to do with how major holidays were observed. In my family the Majors were Christmas (of course), Fourth of July, Halloween and Easter.

Dad was determined that we kids believe in every magical aspect of childhood there ever was, from ghosts in the graveyard to Black Cat firecrackers with enough gunpowder in them to crack a solid rock.

I have to give Dad credit. He and Mom pulled it off longer than most parents, but when you have three older and wiser sisters ahead of you, it’s hard to keep Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny flying for very long.

Dad did his best to delude us. Particularly on Christmas Eve and Easter Eve, he pushed the envelope in the magic-making department. One Christmas during a brief period when we were living in a house with a chimney, my father got a ladder and climbed up on the roof about midnight after my mother had finally scolded all of us into bed, and started stomping around and ringing harness bells while my sister Deb and I stared at each other in wide-eyed terror.

Even in years when we lived in a house without a chimney, Dad would go outside and give the bells a shake just for the heck of it.

But probably his greatest inspiration was the Easter when he secretly went out and bought a full-grown rabbit and had Mom sew up a little blue and yellow jacket for it. Thus arrayed, the confused bunny was set loose while we children, in our half dozing, semiconscious states, were most subject to post-hypnotic suggestion and mass hallucination.

It worked, on me at any rate. When I saw that rabbit loping through my bedroom, sniffing my shoes and nibbling on my stuffed terrier Mr. Butler who had fallen out of bed, I was convinced that the fabled Easter Bunny had come, just to see if I was really sleeping like Mom had told me to do a hundred times.

(The Santa Claus Edict of keeping track of who’s naughty and nice extended to all holidays in the Hill household where there was candy or treats to be had. Even the Tooth Fairy checked up on whether you ate all your liver at the dinner table before bestowing the hard won quarter. I don’t blame Mom for this one. She had few enough ways to control her pack of wild children.)

Deb still swears she wasn’t fooled for a minute, but I noticed at the time she was doing her best fake sleep act, too: Eyes closed, but not too closed, and the deep, even, sonorous breathing. (Since our father snored like a buzz saw, we kids were convinced for years that we all snored in our sleep.)

The effect was spoiled a tad when Dad stuck a limp lettuce leaf around the door frame to lure the bunny back out to the hall so he could make his next appearance in my older sisters’ and my brother’s rooms. But it was a very obliging rabbit and Dad soon rounded it up without having to reveal himself, or much of himself.

That has to have been the most nerve-racking Easter ever. I lay awake half the night wondering whether my fake sleep act had been realistic enough to fool the omniscient rodent. Would there be only four baskets left instead of five? Would I be doomed all day to watch Deb devour chocolate footballs she would not be required to share with me, the evildoer?

When I fell, bleary-eyed, out of bed the next morning I was braced for the worst. So I was practically delirious with joy when I found the big pink basket with the little pink bunny inside tagged with my name sitting on the kitchen table. Mom and Dad, pretty bleary-eyed themselves – probably from spending hours finding a good hiding place for the now inconvenient rabbit – seemed almost delirious, too.

Jane Hill is a Daily Journal staff writer.

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