Hopping Mad

Commentary: Alphabet Soup

Walking toward my Unitarian church on Easter morning, I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman who was headed my direction.

He was, like most Unitarians, friendly and gentle. He asked if I had been a member of the church long, and I told him it had been about five years. I didn’t recognize him, so I asked if he was new to the congregation. He laughed and told me he joined in the mid-80s, but he doesn’t make it to services much. I explained that I don’t make it too often either, and when I do, I’m usually in a room with a bunch of pre-school kids, teaching them about the world from a Unitarian perspective.

He talked about his grown children, who had strayed from the Unitarian life into a more conservative realm, and asked me about my upbringing. I said I grew up with no religious foundation, sort of a blank slate, no expectations — the perfect candidate for adulthood Unitarianism.

When we reached the sanctuary, he went up to the service and I headed off to an Easter egg hunt with 13 kids between the ages of 3 and 5. I suppose he left our conversation thinking that I, too, am a friendly and gentle Unitarian.

The truth is, on Easter Sunday, amid the precious children who are dressed in their little bowties and bonnets as they hunt for the candy-filled plastic eggs I’ve hidden, I am an outraged and indignant Unitarian. I smile at the children and point them in the direction of particularly tricky-to-find eggs, but inside I am fuming.

I’m not just an unglued Unitarian — I am a sullen and irascible citizen of these United States. I am a frustrated freedom-lover. I am a pissed-off patriot. I know that when I leave church, after all the eggs have been located and candy has been eaten and the service has been let out and happy Unitarian parents have collected their happy Unitarian children, I will leave church having absolutely no thoughts about Jesus Christ or the story of his resurrection, and I will attempt to go shopping.

And every single year, I become outraged anew as I remember that for some inexplicable reason, this nation’s retail machine shuts down on Easter Sunday as if we had all agreed that this was acceptable. As if it were Christmas Day (a moral outrage in its own right, from a shopping point of view), or even Thanksgiving Day (secular, at least, but still generally offensive to some — including countless turkeys).

Instead of going out shopping, as should be my god-given right on any day of the year, I went home on Easter after church, because I didn’t really have much choice. I could have gone to Starbucks, or the grocery store (with the signs announcing an early closure that evening). Later in the day, when I went out on an errand, I discovered that I could have spent the whole afternoon in Borders in Silver Sprung™, but I’d done all my Borders shopping the weekend before.

So I was forced to stay inside and watch television. And if you know me at all, you know I enjoy a good rerun as much as — perhaps more than — the next person. It soon came to my attention that Easter Sunday is gay rerun day on television.

First, on a very special NYPD Blue, Sipowicz struggles with whether he should let John, the gay receptionist, baby-sit his kid. Of course he has utmost respect for John, he tells Junior Detective Rick “Ricky” Schroder, but he’s not about to leave his vulnerable young child with a gay. Thank god for Junior Detective Rick “Ricky” Schroder, whose character’s name escapes me at the moment. He talks sense into the curmudgeonly Sipowicz and sure enough, John turns out to be a fantastic babysitter.

Score one for the gays.

Later that night, on a very special ER, Kerry Weaver discovers that she may in fact be a lesbian after she spends no small amount of time asserting her heterosexuality at dinner with a beautiful would-be (and future) seductress.

Score two for the gays.

But I still am bitter about Easter. I am left with a few random thoughts about the holiday, some of them conclusions and some mere musings:

  • I should take care of any retail therapy needs well before Easter Sunday.
  • I really don’t know what Easter is actually about, except for the jelly beans and Peeps and chocolate. I know it has something to with Jesus and a cross, but that’s about where my religious point of reference stops.
  • I am not a terribly good aunt, because the Easter cards I bought my nieces last year, which I forgot to send and then put aside to send this year, are still in my house somewhere.
  • I really do love re-runs of very special programs on television, whether or not they include a gay angle.
  • Viva Borders! I present Borders in Silver Sprung™ with the Kristina Campbell Award for Easter-Oblivious Capitalism (last year’s winner: Modell’s in Bethesda, the only store my best friend and I could find that was open when she was shopping for hiking boots).
  • The little Unitarian children are really good at finding the hidden plastic eggs, and I should be more creative about where I hide them next year.
  • I’m probably just bitter because nobody gave me an Easter basket this year, and come to think of it, I probably haven’t been given an Easter basket in a decade or more.

Luckily, I have humor to get me through my resentment over this particular holiday and its inconveniencing effect on my life. I have the page for the day from my Onion calendar, which announced on Easter that Ozzy Osbourne had bitten the head off a five-pound chocolate rabbit.

And I have the heartwarming story of a distant colleague who said, upon being told that they are now selling chocolate crosses for Easter, “Sweet Jesus.”

Remind me to be on vacation in a Buddhist country next Easter. At least then I can check out the sales at the shopping malls.

Kristina Campbell celebrates only those Christian holidays that involve expensive gift-giving, but she prays that Jesus will forgive her and give her lots of chocolate eggs, if and when He admits her to Heaven. Alphabet Soup appears on a somewhat biweekly schedule, and its author welcomes fan mail and erudite critiques at kcampbell@metroweekly.com.

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