Mummy’s Funny Easter Bunny

Growing up in Western Pennsylvania was pretty special. All of the holidays were celebrated with great enthusiasm. It didn’t matter if it was a national holiday, state holiday, school holiday, personal holiday, birthday, or religious holiday. We celebrated them all.

Being of Eastern European descent, our family celebrated Easter with the ethnic and cultural traditions of our religion and our heritage. However, we also got to experience the other part of the Easter holiday, the Easter Bunny. And we enjoyed the decadence of all the chocolate Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, jelly beans and marshmallow peeps.

Of course, the Easter Bunny is famous for leaving baskets for each child at every house he visits. But, he never left baskets for me and my sisters. We must have been last on his “to do” list, and by the time he got to our house at the end of the street and at the top of the hill,  things began to go awry.

Every year he developed a small hole in the bottom of his bag, probably from dragging it around all night as he went from house to house. As a result, he left a small trail of jelly beans on the walk leading up to the door of our house. The trail became bigger the closer he got to our front door. By the time he used his magic key to unlock the door to our house, jelly beans and brightly colored chocolate eggs began to litter the floor.

At that point he must have given up. Since candy was already falling out of his bag, he must have decided to go with the flow. So he did. And he made an incredible mess. He threw candy all over the dining room and living room floor. At least he neatly lined up the packages of colored peeps, large chocolate bunnies and big eggs on the fireplace. Maybe he stole that idea from Santa Claus.

Every Easter morning, we woke up to that beautiful, colorful mess. My sisters and I crawled around, gathered up the candy, and put it in the bowls and baskets that our mother pulled out of the cabinets. Yes, indeed, once a year we ate candy right off of the floor! Good thing our mother was a meticulous housekeeper. And, we rarely used the living room and dining room anyway. It was only for company.

Every year, our mother would  complain about that darned Easter Bunny for messing up her house. And, every year she would plot how to stop him from doing the same thing the following year. We always hoped the Easter Bunny didn’t hear her. That rascally rabbit was one funny bunny. It would sure be a bummer if we started getting boring baskets like the other kids. Where’s the sport in that?

Fortunately, our Mom never did stop him in his tracks. And every Easter Sunday we were treated with the sight of all that candy thrown all over the floor. Although, it wasn’t as much fun picking up candy off of the floor as I got older, especially since my two older sisters and I got to help our Easter Bunny throw the candy around for our younger sisters when it was their turn to enjoy the magic. But, it was still okay to eat candy right off of the floor.

The truth is, I still believe in the Easter Bunny. And Santa Claus. I believe in the magic of childhood, and I believe in the power of healing and comfort that sweet memories provide. I believe in the mystery and the reality of things that cannot be explained, but that we know in our hearts exist. And, I learned a few important things along the way. It’s important to keep your floors clean. You never know when something sweet might land on them. Second, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You may want to throw them around a bit, and share them with others. At least, that’s what our Easter Bunny would recommend.

 

Robins and the signs of spring

It’s a sure sign of spring when robins start building their nests. When I was a little girl, a sassy little robin built her nest on the window sill of the bedroom that I shared with my two older sisters. My sisters and I watched her build her nest, lay her eggs, hatch her chicks and feed them. Through the window, we watched her and she watched us. That robin must have found the comings and goings of three little girls equally as fascinating as we found her. Perhaps that’s why she chose that spot to build her nest.

One day when I came home from school, my mother told me that  “company” was coming to visit. I found that strange. Who comes to visit in the middle of the day in the middle of the week? Especially when my dad was at work, my two older sisters were in school, and during my baby sister’s nap time? Company turned out to be a photographer from our local newspaper, The Beaver County Times.  Apparently our family of baby robins was a feel good human interest story, and an encouraging sign that spring had arrived. If you have ever experienced a Western Pennsylvania winter, you understand why this is reason to celebrate.

The photographer wanted a picture of me feeding the robins. My mother opened the bedroom window and gave me small chunks of bread to give them. I stood on the bed so I could reach out the window while the photographer positioned himself on the porch and started snapping pictures. I didn’t give a rip about having my picture taken, or the possibility that it might be in the paper. All I cared about was the opportunity to feed those little robins and get a closer look at them.

When the photographer was finished, he and my mom engaged in grown up conversation and forgot about me and the birds as they continued to talk. That’s when the real excitement began. One of the baby robins hopped out of the nest, over the window sill, and fell onto the bed. I squealed in delight, my mother screamed in horror, and another baby bird followed his brother out of the nest and onto the bed. My mother and the photographer ran around the bedroom and tried to catch the birds. I continued to squeal, my mother continued to scream, and the poor photographer ran around in circles as the entire nest of robins made their way into the bedroom. And, as birds often do, started dropping birdie bombs everywhere, if you get my drift.

My mom and the photographer kept running into each other as they tried to catch the robins. In all my born days I had never seen so much chaos. Or had so much fun. Just as soon as one of the adults came close to catching a bird, it managed to slip away and poop some more. All four of them made their way out of the bedroom and into the kitchen and dining room. I was only five, but even I saw the wisdom of closing the bedroom door to confine them to one room. I sure was glad the adults didn’t think of that. I could have told them, but where was the sport in that? Besides, who listens to a five year old? Anyway, it wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining or as much fun for me.

Eventually, all of the baby robins were caught and safely placed back in their nest. I can still see the look on my mother’s face. The photographer was sweating, his glasses were crooked, his tie was twisted, and he had stepped in bird poop. The two of them looked at each other and eventually started to laugh. He offered to stay and help my mother clean up the mess, but she pretty much had enough company for one afternoon. By the time my sisters got home from school, my younger sister woke up from her nap, and my dad came home from work, there was no sign of the fiasco that had taken place that afternoon. However, my mom and I had a fine story to tell at dinner that evening.

The picture did make the front page of the local paper. I guess The Beaver County Times felt they owed it to my mother. Soon after that, the robins were gone and all that was left was the empty nest. Eventually, the nest was gone as well. I was left with a splendid memory of a very exciting afternoon, and a story that my mother and I shared and laughed about for the next fifty years.

I learned that it’s a fine thing to celebrate spring. It’s good to have company over, even if it is in the middle of the day in the middle of the week when nobody else is home. It’s important to feed the birds. And if you ever have baby robins in your bedroom, you might want to close the door and confine them to one room. Unless, of course, you have a five year old around. Then it’s fair game. Happy springtime!

 

Beware the Ides of March

“Beware the Ides of March” is a phrase and a date in history that will forever be associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar. Apparently Caesar had received a warning from his soothsayer telling him to “beware the Ides of March.” I’m not a huge fan of soothsayers, but obviously this one knew what he was talking about, because he accurately predicted the demise of Caesar on March 15th, otherwise known as the Ides of March. 

Hmmm, perhaps Caesar should have listened to his soothsayer and implemented a few precautions. I’m not suggesting that he would still be alive today, but it does make you wonder what would have happened and how the course of history may have changed if he used his awareness and paid more attention to both his surroundings and who his friends were, just in case. 

“Beware the Ides of March” has forever instilled a sense of foreboding on March 15th. And since tomorrow is March 15th, I decided to pass along a few simple safety tips so we don’t have to beware, but be aware instead. Not only on March 15th, but the rest of the year as well. 

1). Heads up.

A distracted person is an easy target. Please, please, please put away your cell phones. They belong in your purse, pocket or backpack, not in your hand stealing your attention from your surroundings. So please, I am begging you….put away your cell phones, especially when you are walking in a parking lot or any public place.

2). Expand your world.

Always notice who (and what) is behind you and on either side of you as well as in front of you at all times, but especially when entering a room or any new environment. If I had a dollar for every woman I have seen stepping onto the elevator in my office building while they were staring down at their phone instead of looking to see who they were getting on an elevator with, I would be a very wealthy woman today. Instead, I am a sad one, because walking into a small enclosed space with no escape route without first seeing who you’re getting on with is not only a bad idea, it’s a dangerous one as well. 

While we’re on the subject of enclosed spaces, always make a mental note of where the exits are; you never know when you might need to make a quick escape, for whatever reason.

3). Make eye contact.

Make eye contact and say hello. Yes, even to strangers. As a matter of fact, especially to strangers. Those are the people you want to let know that you are paying attention. Remember, a distracted person is an easy target, and that’s what the bad guys are looking for. So, look everyone in the eye and smile. Not only is it a great safety practice, you might even make a few new friends along the way.

4). Listen to your inner voice.

If something doesn’t feel right to you, listen to your intuition and remove yourself from the situation immediately. Remember tip number two and know where all of the exits or escape routes are ahead of time so you can make a quick and seamless get-away. I call it the ninja disappearing act. After all, you can’t be harmed if you aren’t there. So, make like a ninja and hide.

5). Play with training awareness.

Turn the practice of training awareness into a game to play with your children and grandchildren. It’s a great way to teach them about personal safety in a safe, non-threatening way as you improve your awareness at the same time. 

6). Educate yourself.

Knowledge is power, and the more you know about personal safety, the more empowered you become.

I just can’t help but wonder how the course of history may have changed if Caesar had taken a few of these simple precautions (except for the part about the cell phones and the elevator). We can all benefit from taking precautions regarding our personal safety without being afraid or paranoid. We don’t have to beware, we just have to pay attention to ourselves, our surroundings, and our relationships. 

So, be aware the Ides of March. Oh, and have a fun, safe and Happy St. Patrick’s Day as well. You might want to use your new-found awareness to be on the lookout for those leprechauns. Be safe, healthy, and aware!