April 2, 2013

My First Easter, or Why Is That Jewish Clown Crying in Target?

Thank you, internet, for this picture of the Jewish Easter Bunny.
Grandma called me and asked, "Should I bring Easter baskets for the girls, or are you making them?"

I kept asking M, "Do you want to make Easter baskets?"

He kept hedging. Finally, two days before Easter, he had a decision.

"I'd like to do the Easter baskets ourselves. You know, start our own family tradition."
"Great," I said, "You should go get Easter baskets then."
"I don't have time for that. You do it."

I hesitated.

"This is your tradition," I started. "Really, you should do this."
"You'll do fine, I'm sure. We don't need to do exactly what my family did. We'll do our own thing. Just go get the kids some Easter baskets."
"Like, the plastic wrapped ones in the store?"
"No, you make them yourself."
"And... what goes into an Easter basket?"

He stared at me blankly.

I repeated myself. "How do you make an Easter basket?"

Again, the blank look. "You get a basket, and you put the stuff inside."

"Describe one to me. Illustrate it."

He looked at me like I was from outer space.

"I've never had one! What goes into it?"

He heaved a deep sigh, and said, "It needs fake grass, and you hide jelly beans and stuff in the grass. It needs a chocolate bunny, and it needs a cellophane carrot thing filled with candy. And giant robin's eggs. Not those little ones."

Giant robin's eggs? "Just one chocolate bunny?"

"Oh yeah, just one. Not that much candy. It should have more toys than candy."

"Toys? Like... what? A book?"

"Yeah, a book would be good."

Pinterest is not my friend.
I bit my lip. I was a little embarrassed that I still felt lost and confused. I had never once in my life had an Easter basket. I'm Jewish, why should I have? But I knew he was right. He had no time to go to the store. I had a job interview that day, I would stop at Target on the way home, and pick up the stuff for Easter baskets. It would be over quickly.

"Fine," I said. "I'll make the Easter baskets."

I began covertly checking Pinterest for some sense of context. What goes into an Easter basket? Gardening supplies? Homemade cookies? Pajamas rolled into gigantic carrot shapes? All of it was overwhelming, and looked improbable. At least it seemed like a starting place.

M went to work, and I dressed in the closest thing I could find to appropriate clothes. I put on my best Fluevogs, and went off to my job interview. As this is still me we're talking about, I cobbled the outfit together at the last moment. It involved putting on a pair of sort of sexy rugby socks- but I had to pull them ridiculously high.  They were tight around my thighs, almost uncomfortably so, but they looked professional under the skirt. It was either that or bright orange leggings. I figured I'd just take them off when I got home.

The job interview was over quickly, which made me worry. It also gave me plenty of time to spend at Target before my sitter needed to leave.

As I neared the parking ramp, I began to feel very nervous. What goes into an Easter basket? I kept asking myself. It seemed like a lot of pressure.

I warmed up by getting myself two new cardigans and two new skirts. I put them in the cart, thinking they'd be great either for working the new job, if I got it, or just for looking nice for the spring. Feeling slightly better about myself, I turned the cart around and approached the Easter section.

The nice feeling disappeared instantly.

I watched the moms and grandmas hurrying through the aisles with a sense of purpose. I studied them, the way they simply grabbed things, as though dictated by a higher power, and pushed their carts towards the grocery section. They looked busy, harassed, but not at all bothered by the task at hand. I approached the two aisles of baskets with a sense of foreboding.

So. many. baskets. So many colors, so many sizes...

Baskets that were lined in fabric, baskets that looked like animals, baskets made of plastic, of wood, of felt. Baskets in the shape of stuffed heads. Spiderman, Yoda, Princess Aurora...

My stomach lurched.

I grabbed a gigantic basket. Huge. It was a ridiculous price. I put it back. I picked up the cheapest basket I could find. It was so chintzy looking, and tiny. A book would never fit in there. I put it back.

I circled the aisle for twenty minutes, my blood pressure rising, my throat tightening. And then I saw them- the baskets. A pink one, for DD, a yellow one, for SI, and another half a dozen colors to choose from for RH. I grabbed three baskets, and moved to the candy.

My understanding of Easter baskets
Reece's pieces in a cellophane carrot shape. Perfect. Jelly beans, check. Chocolate bunnies...

I stared at the wall of chocolate bunnies. And panic set in.

You see, the only Easter baskets I'd ever even seen up close were the display baskets in store. Baskets full to overflowing with toys, half a dozen chocolate rabbits poking out. Maybe a stuffed animal or two. M hadn't said anything about the stuffed animals.

I stared at the bunnies, and my head started swimming. Only one, I thought. I decided that if there was only one bunny apiece, I needed to make it count. I grabben the Lindt bunnies, and began to turn to the toys.

That's when I saw the giant peanut butter cup bunny, and I thought of M. M would LOVE that bunny... I thought. And then it hit me- M was the one who was crazy for Easter. Should he be the one getting a basket?

I went back to the baskets. I found a nice blue one. I put it in the cart. Then I went back through the candy, grabbing another one of everything. I remembered M's request for "giant robin's eggs." There were the miniature robin's eggs, and there were the regular robin's eggs... but that was it.  I circled the candy again, scouring every shelf. Giant robin's eggs? I circled again, more slowly. I started to feel an odd pain in my left hamstring, and ignored it. Again, I circled the candy section. No giant robin's eggs. Feeling hopeless and useless and utterly incompetent, I grabbed a bag or regular old robin's eggs and began rehearsing my speech of apology and contrition. I then collected the Reece's bunny, and stared at the four rabbits in the cart. Another panicked thought reached the surface.

What about you? If all four of them get baskets and you don't, the girls will want to know why. Do I really want to explain why mommy and daddy don't celebrate Easter together? SHOULD I? Isn't doing this as a family more important than differentiating between religions and beliefs?

My lips dry and feeling that odd pain growing stronger, I circled back to the baskets again. I got another one. I grabbed more Reece's pieces, another chocolate bunny, and moved over to the toys. I felt my feet ache in their gorgeous high heels. I willed myself to ignore it, and moved on.

I had just laid eyes on these cute little cups. Like the ones Grandma had gotten the girls for Christmas. I froze.

What about Grandma and Grandpa? Won't THEY need baskets?

I turned around again. I spent the next ten minutes searching for two more different baskets, and finally found what seemed to be the very last ones. All matching, but none the same. Now I had seven baskets, seven chocolate bunnies, seven Reece's pieces carrots... but what else?

I started stopping random moms. "What do you put in an Easter basket?" I asked. They looked at me like I was crazy. "Toys and candy?" "Right, but, which toys? Which candy?" They backed away slowly. I started sweating.

I stared into the vastness of Target. It was like looking into the abyss. Everywhere there were Easter signs, "Easter pajamas," "Easter shoes," "Easter toys," "FOR EASTER," "FOR EASTER." "FOR EASTER," was everywhere.

Pinterest- you're not helping.
I went tearing through the store. I picked up objects at random, wondering, Would M like this for Easter? Would Grandma? Would Grandpa? Would RH? Is THIS something that people do for Easter? Should I get Grandma a new nightshirt? Is that weird? Would Grandpa like this book? Maybe movies instead! The girls can get movies in their baskets! Easter dresses! Slippers for Grandma! Bunny shaped cord organizers! Yes! FLOWERS FOR EVERYONE!

I thought back to every commercial I'd ever seen.

Do people give each other clothes for Easter? Do they give each other food? Movies? Should I get M romantic stuff? What the hell do I get my father in law?

I started having heart palpitations, but I kept moving on. I realized that my left leg was going numb, and tugged at my absurd socks, throwing things into the cart all the while. A hungry caterpillar rattle for RH! Sundresses for DD and SI! Books, books, books! DVDs! Herb gardens for me and Grandma! All the while, stopping random strangers, gesturing at my cart, and practically screaming into their faces, "Does this look right?"

It was in the underwear section, picking up some new underpants for DD and SI that I completely lost it. My feet were aching in my interview heels, and I could hardly put weight on my left leg. It stabbed and throbbed simultaneously. When I shifted the elastic where the socks cut into the meat over my knee, a stabbing pain shot down my thigh, and my leg buckled. I leaned over my cart, buried my face in a heap of little girl nightgowns, and wept aloud, "What the HELL goes into a freakin' Easter basket?!"

I limped to the checkout lane, leaning heavily on my equally heavy cart, and began unloading the loot. As the things came out of the cart and onto the little conveyer belt, I began stashing them under the chewing gum. Mostly the things for my own basket. I don't deserve Wonder Woman pajama pants, I muttered under my breath, shoving the offending item beneath the Mentos. I crammed a copy of Skyfall behind the stack of People. I grabbed a bottle of water from the tiny fridge, opened it, and took a staggering, desperate swig.

A checkout girl from the next aisle over tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to my blouse. I looked down, and realized that it was unbuttoned nearly all the way to my skirt's waistband. In buttoning it up again, I discovered my own lipstick smeared all over my shoulder. I had a moment to imagine myself...

Half topless. Lipstick smeared like the Joker. Sobbing into a shopping cart overflowing with... so much junk.

The harrowing sounds of reality brought me from my humiliated reverie. "Your total is $504.18."

I burst into laughter. It was almost tears. The poor check out girl ushered me out as quickly as possible.

I called M from the parking lot, and without preamble announced, "I just spent five hundred dollars at Target."

A pause. I imagined he wasn't screaming yet because he was still at his desk and it would draw the attention of his office mates. When he spoke, his voice was on the verge of cracking. "On WHAT?"

"...Easter baskets?"

"Oh my fucking god. You know it's all got to go back, right?"

I turned on the engine for the car, and discovered that I have been in Target for more than two and a half hours. I was already half an hour late for the sitter. At least when I get home, it will be nap time, I told myself.

But upon arriving limping up the three flights of stairs to our door, I discovered the sitter had failed to enforce nap time. My children were in the midst of their post-nap time un-napped meltdowns. Screaming, flailing, hitting. I didn't even get my fancy and incredibly painful shoes off before enforcing time-outs and calming hysterics. After collapsing on the floor and engaging in a pseudo-shouting match with a child who was beating her tiny fists against the floor in protest of my removal of the torture devices I once called socks, I initiated bedtime two hours early. No child protested- a small miracle. M returned as I was organizing my dozen Target bags- to at least take a look at whatever small disasters I had brought home.

He stood in the doorway, jaw agape as he surveyed the damage. Seven baskets. Stacks of books. Heaps of $5 DVDs. For a moment, it looked like he might yell. Then his eyes turned to my face. His voice tender, full of concern, he asked, "What happened?" I burst into hysterical sobs.

This is probably pretty accurate.
I told him about the peanut butter bunny, and then the fifth basket, and then the seventh basket, and the EASTER EASTER EASTER signs everywhere, and the books, and the moms looking at me as though my head was on backwards, suddenly realizing as I said it that I must have looked insane with my lipstick smeared to my ear and my shirt hanging open.

Calmly, he helped me set aside the things to keep for each basket. A chocolate bunny. Fake grass. A book. A carrot shaped cellophane filled with candy. A bubble wand. It looked... right.

I filled a 13 gallon trash bag to overflowing with the things to return. As the scene began to look like a normal evening in our home, he asked, "What about the clothes you got for yourself? Where are those?"

It was my turn to stare at him blankly.

I knew they weren't in the car. I was careful not to leave a single bag, lest it contain chocolate that might melt in the afternoon sun. I scoured the house.

Nowhere.

And I thought back to the only place it could be- the place where I suddenly remembered a half topless crazy lady looking like a horror show who had opened a bottle of water, taken a single swig, and then left it on the counter without paying.

In the cashier's rush to get me out of her store, she must have forgotten to put the last bag into the cart. It would have been the last bag, too- the clothes were the first thing to go into the cart.

I began to cry again, curled into bed, and hoped that sleep would come quickly. "Good thing you got the giant robin's eggs!" he said. I nearly punched him.

Bright and early the next day, I once again found myself at Target. It had been about eighteen hours since my last visit, and I felt notorious. Conspicuous. I was terrified that despite my lack of heels and limp and lipstick, I might be recognized.

I set my trash bag full of freshly purchased goods on the Customer Service counter, and asked if there was any chance they had found a bag with some skirts and cardigans in it at the check out the previous day. The woman took my receipt to a manager and told me we'd have to wait a while. Over the next half hour, I told her my tale. After all, it's so awkward just standing next to a gigantic bag full of candy that you know is just getting thrown away. My guilt was palpable. I had to confess.

As I told her of my panic, of my desperate search for the right baskets, she suddenly perked up. "Oh! I THOUGHT you looked familiar! I saw you here yesterday!"

As I felt the blush of pure mortifying horror rush to my face, I looked down to hide my shame. I discovered that my blouse was partially open. I surreptitiously buttoned it up again, now waiting in silence for the manager and my new cardigans.

They found the record of my clothes, and allowed me to take them back with me. As the Customer Service lady went through the entire bag- the four baskets, the four Reece's carrots, the chocolate bunnies, the herb-gardens-in-a-bucket, the bunny shaped cord organizers- she kept shaking her head and laughing.

"You know, these would have been lovely Easter baskets."

With my tail between my legs, I got into the car to hit my one last stop before Easter could officially commence. I had to get several dozen eggs from the grocery store. I picked up the cheapest eggs I could find, and returned home. Exhausted, but hopefully redeemed.

While I was out Grandma and Grandpa arrived from Minnesota, and they were playing with their grandchildren when I arrived. Naptime began peacefully. Grandma had all sorts of things to put into the Easter baskets. A lot of things I had just returned to Target. Clothes, toys, bags upon bags of candy.

As Grandma emptied my grocery bag, I heard her laughing.

It was Easter, and I had returned from the store with a bag full of brown eggs.

BROWN eggs.

You know...

For Easter.

Next year, this is M's job.

Our finished Easter baskets. Hopefully, worth my utter public humiliation.

14 comments:

  1. I have never read a story that was so funny and sad at the same time. We never celebrated Easter at my house as a kid either, and I find myself a little bit lost this time of year too, but I have never stripped off in the middle of Target. You deserve a good stiff drink for getting through this, and I hope you are better prepared for your next Easter now.

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    Replies
    1. Drinks! I never even thought of that! I should have just grabbed all the grownups a bottle of wine and left it at that. :)

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  2. I bought brown eggs last year, the first year hosting Easter at my house, not even thinking about it because brown eggs are what I always buy. It didn't even occur to me until we were trying to dye them. And my family has always celebrated Easter. I think Target can be overwhelming at the best of times...I had a mini-meltdown the last time I was there, stopping with my then-five-month-old daughter to "grab a few things." The baby was so good...it wasn't even her. There was just so much...STUFF everywhere, and I ended up getting way more than I'd intended, which is ALWAYS the case...anyway, I get it. Don't feel bad! Blame ridiculous holiday commercialism, I think...

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  3. This was so funny, but I felt so bad for laughing! You poor thing! I wish one of those moms had understood the situation and helped you out. It looks like you did a BEAUTIFUL job, though, and seriously, how nice are you that you'd think to get Easter baskets for your in-laws. That's super sweet.

    The Easter stuff in Target is seriously overwhelming. I'm just surprised you only came out spending $500. I feel like I do that EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I'm in Target. :)

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    Replies
    1. M calls it the Target effect. Can't leave without dropping $200, $300 with kids. I just try to avoid the place. :P

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  4. I have no children, but last week I spent $20 just on candy at Target, just for me and the bf. I can't imagine how much I'll spend when I have kids someday.

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  5. Too funny! You and I could never shop together. I would have banged that task out in 1/2 hour at under $40 and dragged you out like a caveman by your hair. Sorry you had to waste so much stress on that ;0)

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    Replies
    1. I WISH somebody had dragged me out! It would have been worth it!

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  6. This made me laugh so hard! Top to bottom, it just kept getting funnier and funnier! I feel like that sometimes, with Thai stuff, but I could never write about it in such a funny way. I loved this You have a new reader!

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  7. OMG! Brown eggs! That's something I would do. I struggle to put two and two together sometimes. It's one of my major flaws. I'm so focused on the details sometimes that I miss the most obvious things. Ugh!

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