As everyone knows, Easter is a great time to give – and, even better – to receive gifts. Since gift-giving and gift-receiving can be a little fraught, even during such an ordinary gift-giving holiday as Easter, I thought it’d be helpful to share a few pointers for both you amazing givers and, maybe more importantly, all you givees out there.
First, a correction: Easter is not about ham. That is a lie perpetuated by the mass media.
It might be about lamb, though. (A professor once told me that the ham-lamb confusion is due to a mistranslation from Aramaic to Greek.)
Second: it’s always good to have a basic understanding for what exactly is going with Easter. Why? Because historical knowledge always makes for better gift-giving decisions (it’s her history of giving me a new keychain every year that helps my mom know what to get me next year). So a little historical background: Easter, as you certainly know, is a famously religious holiday. It’s all about how the physical son of the Lord, Jesus, came back from the dead in the form of a gigantic rabbit. In Irish parlance, this is known as a “pooka.”
Understandably, Pooka Rabbit Jesus was shy about coming back from the dead: it’s a little embarrassing to have to tell people who think you’re dead and who grieved over you and buried you that nope, nothing to worry about, everything’s fine. Plus: you’re a rabbit—rabbits are fundamentally shy. So Pooka Rabbit Jesus sort of shyly snuck around the cemetery, hiding hints and references both to his existence and to cultural texts, and anyone who found his clues received their choice of foil-wrapped chocolate in the shape of bunny or egg or, if they had a chocolate allergy, jelly beans.
So that’s Easter: that’s where Easter comes from.
Since Easter is such a famously religious holiday, it’s best to be careful not to be offensive about it. No snickering about religion, people. This disqualifies several gift-giving options:
- No ham.
- No Snickers.
- No funny business.
Helpfully, there are two clear Easter gift-buying options:
Category 1: Religious Easter Gifts
Despite my historical knowledge, I’m actually not as religious as you might think, and I’m a little hesitant to make Easter-religious-gift suggestions. But only a little! Things that I think would make good Easter religious gifts include: Sea Peeps (like Sea Monkeys, only Peeps; they come back from the dead); emptied eggs re-filled with confetti and dyed, made to smash upon a loved one’s head; gold-leaf Bibles; amazing portraits of Jesus; prayer books; Amy Grant albums; and so on.
Category 2: Commercial Easter Gifts
Did I mention my mom? She is really, really good at giving me commercial Easter presents. Each year, the postal delivery person brings us a huge cardboard box, and the box is filled with any variety of things—all, of course, Easter related. Many years there’s a basket, often dyed a bright color (the color washes off your fingers if you scrub hard enough). Usually inside and around the basket is a whole bunch of little strands of green plastic. This is a simulacrum of grass. But it’s plastic! It will last forever! In and around the grass are the aforementioned Easter presents: various chocolate eggs and jelly beans. Sometimes there are cards with rabbits. Sometimes there are stone eggs painted in various designs; these are for hiding in the yard. Sometimes there are stuffed animal rabbits, like a thing for kids, but which, even as an adult, a person should appreciate and cherish.
This year? Not only is there an Easter-themed door jangle, there’s also a huge ceramic bunny-shaped chip-and-dip!
So many commercial Easter presents! As long as the present embodies or at least nods toward the origin of the holiday, as long as there is some semblance of Jesus, or coming back to life, or a rabbit, or an egg, or chocolate, or other candy: it’s a perfect Easter gift.
All that said? The best Easter gift of all has to be, of course, the piñata. A piñata in the shape of enormous rabbit head—set, if, you so choose, upon the body of Jesus. This magical Easter piñata can be filled with whatever goods you want (but it’s probably best to stick with candy). Each year, a few days before the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, the postal delivery person rings the doorbell; each year, I go to the door, hoping that there will, in the doorway, the hanging rabbit-head-Jesus-body piñata I’ve always wanted. That perfect combination of all things Easter.
It hasn’t happened yet. A boy can dream.
So for now: I smile and lovingly open whatever gift I get, because that’s the main thing there: be grateful for any Easter present. The wind chimes. The plastic grass. The chip-and-dip. It’s all a celebration of that faraway day—and if you keep that in mind, you won’t feel any regret at all, you’ll just feel happy, thrumming through the day on a wave of sugar, faith, and love.