I dread Easter more than any other holiday. Perhaps
stress from the ducks my father got for me shortly before Easter
when I was
four. It was common in those days to give kids pet ducks and rabbits
Easter. Unfortunately, that year the ducks were infecting children with
Palsy, a condition that temporarily paralyzes half of the face.
I don't remember having Bell's Palsy, but years later I saw
myself with it. I was wearing a pink dress with a pig on the front of
playing with my ducks and rabbits, my face twisted into a half smile.
I don't know where the ducks went after they left, but I do remember what
happened to the rabbits that year.
The night before Easter, my father told
me to say goodbye to them. He said
they had to leave to deliver eggs to all the
children, and then they would
return to bunny-land. When I woke up the next morning,
the bunnies were
Later, when we went to my
grandparents' house for Easter dinner, I told my
cousin, Michael, that my rabbits
left the night before to deliver eggs. It
made no sense. I had three rabbits, and I
figured it should only take one to
deliver the eggs, especially since Santa could
deliver all his presents in one
night. Michael told me that his rabbits ran away the
night before when his
mother opened the garage door.
conversation, our grandmother entered the dining room bearing a
great fragrant pot of
steaming rabbit cacciatore. Our jaws dropped and we
exchanged horrified looks.
More recently I was in the kitchen when my father took the Easter lamb
the oven to baste it. It was tiny and completely
There's something about this holiday that turns a
of Italians into savages that revel in killing cute, small, furry
I did yoga to prepare myself for Easter
dinner with my family this
year. I found my center and surrendered to gravity. I
was supposed to be
there at 2:30, but I was fashionably late. I ignored the ringing
phone as I
was getting ready to leave, knowing there would be an impatient relative
the other end.
When I arrived, I snuck into the backyard
to hide candy-filled plastic
eggs for my niece and nephew. That was when I saw the
I chuckled as I recalled a conversation I had
with my niece the
previous spring about Grampy's squirrel trap.
"We must sneak outside and de-activate that squirrel trap." I told her
noticed it outside the window in my old bedroom.
squirrel cacciatore is delicious," she replied earnestly.
squirrels are cute and fluffy."
"Yeah, but they're good
While hiding the eggs, I noticed a splotch of what
looked like bright
red paint on the ground.
After the kids
found the eggs, they decided to hide them again. My
niece stepped in the paint while
we were playing.
"Eww. I have blood on my shoe!" she
"That's not blood, honey," I reassured
"Yes, it is," she said, scraping her shoe on the
My father called us in for the first course.
Jonna was really upset about her shoes, so I told her to leave
the porch, and we'd deal with them later.
antipasto, we had the classic argument about gay marriage. The
recent decision by
the high court in Massachusetts supporting gay marriage has
my father in such upset
that he seizes every opportunity to raise the issue,
trying to convince us to revolt.
As I argued to the left, he poured me more wine. "Maybe if you
enough to drink, you'll start to think properly," he suggested.
"You could never get me that drunk."
cleared the dishes and brought them out into the kitchen. I cringed
and looked away
when I saw the lamb heads in a pan on the counter, waiting to
be stuffed. The
tradition of rabbit cacciatore has been replaced with this
macabre "delicacy," which
my father and brother enjoy every year at Easter.
We decided to go back outside in
between courses. Jonna was still worried
about the blood on her
"Why do you think it's blood?" I asked
She looked over her shoulder and then shut the door to my
room. "Grampy catches the squirrels in the trap and then shoots them," she
"He shoots them when they're in the
She nodded solemnly.
"How do you know this?"
"Grampy told me," she replied.
"That's nice," I said warmly, my heart brimming with holiday joy.
"Auntie, I can't wear those sneakers like that. Could you please wash
blood off of them?"
washed the blood of the sacrificial squirrel off Jonna's
sneakers, we all went back
outside. The kids wanted to hide the eggs again.
Their search for different hiding
spots led us to the very back of the
backyard, near the brush that is behind what was
referred to by our mother
as "the laundry area." My brother pointed to a spot nearby
It was Grampy's squirrel graveyard, where six tiny squirrel corpses
huddled stiffly together. I gasped, and my brother laughed
My sister-in-law pointed to a big dark hole in the
ground near the
"What's that?" she
"The cesspool," my brother and I replied in
As children, we were warned repeatedly by our mother that
the cesspool was even more dangerous than taking candy from strangers, for
cesspool loves to eat little children. My brother then delivered the cesspool
speech that our mother drilled into us as kids.
"It will suck
you up like quicksand," said John, throwing a large
branch into the hole to
demonstrate. The branch sunk slowly into the darkness.
picked up one of the dead squirrels by his tail and tossed him
I was done. There was nothing left to do but scream and
run away. I
rested my weary head on the cool hood of my car.
Little footsteps followed me, and my nephew, Mikey, appeared from
around the corner.
"Auntie, why did you go 'AHHH' and run away?"
bad to throw dead squirrels in the cesspool," I cried,
knowing at that very moment,
my brother was behind the house, laughing at
me and tossing the rest of the squirrels
into the hole.
My father called us in for the next course. It
was time to watch them
eat their lamb heads.