ETCETERA / Home Thoughts

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The Independent Culture
WHAT do you teach a four-year-old about Easter? Last year, we happened to be staying in the country with my sister's boyfriend's parents, and the whole day made a very big impression on my son. He woke up at 5.30am on Easter Sunday, expecting that something exciting was going to happen, and by 6am I could no longer resist his pleas that I get up. By 8am, after reading Thomas the Tank Engine for the 15th time, I had still failed to provide anything very interesting for an increasingly expectant small child. So I was grateful for the suggestion that we should all go to church for the early morning Easter service.

Bar weddings and christenings, this was Jamie's first trip to church and he looked suitably awed by the occasion: hymns, flowers, standing up, sitting down, kneeling on the floor. Then we went back to the house to hunt for Easter eggs in the garden. I don't know how he thought the two things fitted together - God and chocolate, I mean - but he was only three, so I didn't even try to explain.

This year, he was just as hazy about the details of Easter rituals, both Christian and pagan. 'When does the Easter bunny come?' he asked me last week. 'And why? Why does he come and hide chocolate eggs?' This is a good question. Why is a giant rabbit delivering Easter eggs? But I have no suitable answers. I just get sidetracked on to practical issues; primarily, that eating vast quantities of chocolate eggs will make him sick.

He knows that Easter has got something to do with lambs, too. Little bouncy lambs, and sweet fluffy Easter chicks. But then the lambs and chickens get eaten for Sunday lunch like the chocolate eggs. Yummy.

His great-grandfather, my father's father, might have had something more poetic to say about the lamb of God. As I have mentioned before, he was a born-again Christian, a fervent supporter of Jews for Jesus - and, incidentally, the winner of the 1924 Bardic Chair at the Johannesburg Eisteddfod. He was a poet, you see, with an obvious affinity for druids despite being born in Russia. So he would have been the ideal person to teach Jamie about Easter. But unfortunately he died last year at the age of 93, consigned to a Jewish heaven by my father, who wasn't having any of that Christian burial nonsense.

So it will have to be me who explains the mysteries of God and chocolate; and why there are lambs to eat, and lambs to pet, and the Holy Lamb that saved our souls. I knew it all when I went to a Church of England primary school: God is good; too much chocolate is bad for you (although if you save your eggs in a virtuous way, like I did when I was 10 years old, the mice will eat them all). But I fear the finer details are now eluding me. I'm just waiting for some holy inspiration.-