Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Merry Easter?

I swear it's getting worse every year.

I always start looking for it around Valentine's Day. And that's because I recall each year, as a child, listening to Milwaukee DJ "Larry the Legend" talking about it right around that time, when he let people call in and report the names and addresses of neighbors who hadn't yet taken down their Christmas decorations. And then Larry the Legend would turn around and call these people - live on the radio - to embarrass them, asking them why they hadn't yet taken them down?

Valentine's Day, today? That ain't nothing anymore; no one bats an eye.

Even yesterday, a day after Easter, I saw them all over the place as I drove across town: Christmas decorations hung on porches, plastic Santas in yards, and Christmas wreaths brown and dead still hanging on the front door. And it's not just in my town - it's all over the metro Milwaukee area, which I drive in and around and through multiple times a day, at least five or more days a week.

What is wrong with people? This past week I thought, at least, people would realize that Easter was in a few days, and so then they'd finally go outside and take down the Christmas stuff.


I have this figured out, though. Tell me if you agree or not.

While I will allow some leeway for the fact that Wisconsin is cold and snowy and miserable for many months following Christmas, and people just don't want to go out and freeze their butts off taking down Christmas decorations in a foot of snow, I believe this is all about the secular nature of our culture which values Christmas, but ignores Easter. (By the way, we still have snow here, so I hope the Easter Bunny was wearing a coat!)

Seriously, though. Everyone gets these warm fuzzies about Christmas, especially since it's all about the gift-giving, right? People of all religions and faiths celebrate Christmas - oops, I mean the Holidays - because Christmas is about anything you want it to be, as long as it's about family and friends and "the spirit of the season," which is giving - oops - I mean GETTING.

But there's not much to be got for Easter. Which is why I believe there are many, many more people than we imagine who sit around doing jack sh*t nothing on Easter Sunday. And that's because it's pretty hard to ignore that Easter is absolutely, positively about Christ and Christianity. It's inherent in the whole thing and the hypocrisy of celebrating this holiday without having a vested interest in Christianity is obvious. Whereas the hypocrisy of ignoring the birth of Christ at Christmas is something our culture has long ago come to terms with.

On Easter Sunday, as we were leaving to go to mass, I noticed that the parking lot at our local grocery store was PACKED. Note that you wouldn't see that on Christmas Day, because everything on the planet is shut down. Thus, I imagine that if we had driven past a Wal-Mart on Sunday, we would have seem the same: a parking lot full of cars, given that a huge percentage of people in our culture see Easter Sunday as no different than any other day. Well, save for maybe some kind relative who invites you over for a nice dinner that you show up for and then leave, wondering what you should do for the rest of the day?

Hey, I know! Let's have a beer! Watch a basketball game! Here in Wisconsin, Easter Sunday is big business in the bars and clubs. Because it's such a sacred day and all.

Am I wrong about this?

Oh sure, there are secular people who make Easter a day about getting the kids out for an Easter egg hunt, and hiding an Easter basket, and maybe a nice Easter brunch. Akin to the secular Christmas holiday folks, who are nominally Christian for five minutes twice a year. But without the prospect of gifts to go around for everyone (that means the adults, too) I believe many people today just forgo Easter all together, since there's nothing in it for them.

And this is why I think there are so, so many Christmas decorations still hanging around out there. People just don't care about Easter, it has no meaning for them, so there's no reason to take them down. They'll wait until they have to mow the lawn for the first time or when Mom complains that she'd like them taken down and put away as a Mother's Day gift.

In my lifetime, as is already the case, I expect more and more to see Easter marginalized and de-emphasized, as our culture increasingly finds Christianity irrelevant or something to be hostile towards. Easter will instead continue to evolve into a spring festival of renewal (as was explicitly stated as the meaning of Easter on Alan's copy of "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!"), which means people can take it or leave it. At best, it will be a Sunday off for some and a plate of ham over at Aunt Mary's house.

So sad.