Sunday, April 23, 2006

New Easter Traditions

Ever since we moved to Florida, we've been creating new holiday traditions. In Chicago, our holidays alternated between going to my brother's house for dinner or taking a cruise to avoid going to my brother's house to dinner.

In theory, when we came to Celebration, I thought that we might return to Chicago for the "big" holidays. In practice, I discovered that I have no desire to do so. That may be influenced by the fact that the "Big Three" holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter) fall during times of the year when sunshine, heat, and palm trees are preferable to cold, snow, and bluster. With free long distance and unlimited cell phone minutes, it's easy to reach out and touch northern family members aurally while physically revelling in southern comfort.

Last Christmas, we started the "hair in the Chinese food" tradition (loosely based on a "A Christmas Story," although the hair part is pure can find full details in a previous blog entry). Now, for Easter, we started a ritual called "Breaking and Consumption of the Politically Correct Praying Hands."

The day actually started on a relatively low-key note. We were planning to attend the 11 a.m. church service, as usual, but friends urged us to opt for 9:45 so we wouldn't be buried in the massive church-twice-a-year-at-Christmas-and-Easter crowd. Our church normally holds services at 8:30 and 11 a.m. The 9:45 service had been added to accommodate the holiday masses; since it is at a non-standard time, it tends to be the least crowded. Humans are creatures of habit, and many don't want to take the leap of resetting their internal schedules for a week. No problem...all the better for those who are flexible!

After the service, we planned to join our friends for lunch at Carrabba's, a wonderful Italian restaurant that is normally open for dinner only. It only serves lunch on holidays, so we planned on an early meal after church.

Both the service and the lunch were non-eventful (chicken with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese...mmmm!). The only slight excitement was a spirited disagreement between my husband and I on which direction to turn on 192. For some reason, I continually confuse Carrabba's with Pacini's, which is to the right. But the correct way is to the left, as my husband vigorously reminded me. I followed his directions, mumbling dissention the whole way as I inched through the bumper-to-bumper tourist traffic, and soon he had the pleasure of chanting, "I told you so!" (It's a rare pleasure for him, so it was especially sweet.)

Once we returned home, we decided to take a dip in the hot tub. We were just about to don our swimwear when the phone was the friends we had just dined with, inviting us over for a capper of Publix Fine Wine Product (aka Wild Vines blackberry merlot) and a dip in their pool. It sounded like a good plan to us, so we put on our swimsuits and hopped into Crush (our NEV) for the journey to West Village.

Even though I've turned from a heaty Chicagoan polar bear to a Floridian wimp where water temperature is concerned, the solar heater had warmed to pool to a comfortable level. As we paddled around, I marveled at the wonder of living in a climate where Easter is a time for pool parties.

But we did give proper deference to the season by the ritual "Breaking and Consumption of the Politically Correct Praying Hands." Our hosts had Easter chocolate in a variety of sacred shapes (in the photo below, their son is enjoying a chocolate cross sucker in the "holy waters" of the hot tub):

And what better way to honor both the religious and secular aspects of the holiday than to cap it off with chocolate praying hands? Better yet, politically correct praying hands! Below, I am holding the sacred plate containing both Caucasian and Person of Color praying hands:

Why bite the ears off a pagan-inspired cholate bunny when you can chew on a Christian finger or two? The hands didn't last long in their pristine state. Within moments of the photo, they were broken into pieces and consumed in the spirit of the day.

I am an Equal Opportunity supporter, so I made sure to consume both milk chocolate and white chocolate hand chunks. They made a lovely topper to the earlier Italian feast.

As I floated in the cool blue water, chewing on a last hunk of chocolate, I pondered the interesting turn that our holiday traditions have taken. I knew it would be a big change to move to Celebration, but somehow I never pictured finding a hair in the Chinese beef on Christmas or chowing on praying hands in a pool on Easter. Yes, I have a vivid imagination, but those ideas were beyond even my warped mind.

But the new traditions are so much fun! I knew I'd love life in Celebration, but I never expected such a surreal adventure. I don't even try to imagine what the next new tradition or adventure will be. I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

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