CORONAVIRUS

Easter comes under a dark cloud, but with Peeps

Shortly before Easter 2018, marshmallow Peeps Chicks move down a conveyor belt to be boxed and shipped at the Just Born
Shortly before Easter 2018, marshmallow Peeps Chicks move down a conveyor belt to be boxed and shipped at the Just Born manufacturing facility in Bethlehem, Pa. (Mike Mergen/Bloomberg)

Easter 2020 will be long remembered as the year we hid along with the eggs.

If the Easter bunny made it, I hope he was wearing a mask. How do you take a rabbit’s temperature anyway? Nevermind.

I read on Facebook that marshmallow Peeps can cure the virus. It’s worth a shot.

We’ll be home for the holiday for the first time in the better part of two decades. Our tradition up until now was to head to my hometown, Belmond, in north central Iowa, and take in the buffet at Cattleman’s restaurant. My brother’s family and my family would trek to the old home place for ham, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn and a salad bar. Once we’d had all we could eat, we’d head back to my parents’ house.

For several years my dad got out a kite he’d tied to a fishing pole to see if he could make it fly. In recent years, my girls hid eggs in the yard for my brother’s family to find. The Twins were usually on the radio in the background.

My mother died 10 years ago this month. Last fall we moved my dad into a memory care facility in Marion about a mile from our home. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t visit him and the family won’t be gathering to start any new traditions.

I miss my mom, of course, and wish she was still with us. She would have absolutely loved watching my younger daughter sing and dance in show choir. She would be proud of my smart older daughter heading off to college.

But this pandemic would drive her to the brink. She was long a believer in the worst-case scenario. Maybe it was irrational, and maybe it’s the reason we haven’t ended up dead in a ditch. Who knows? But I can only imagine how she’d be dealing with us living in Eastern Iowa, coronavirus central. Still, I wish I could get those phone calls.

My dad is doing OK. My brother and I took him out March 6 for his 88th birthday. At lunch we talked about college basketball tournaments and getting together for Easter. Boy, were we in for a surprise. We’ve tried video chatting with my dad, with mixed results. The guy was born before FDR was sworn in, so we cut him some slack.

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We’re certainly not living in a worst-case situation. We’re well and well-stocked for spring revelry on the subdued side. We’re employed, for now, and are lucky. There’s a mountain of blessings to be thankful for today. I mean, we even have toilet paper.

There will be eggs, hidden, and plenty of candy, although the haul will be smaller. Chocolate hoarding is now a felony, or maybe not.

But the uncertainty hangs like a dark cloud. We sit beneath it, waiting for blue sky.

I’ve promised my kids I’ll make fried chicken, although it will not be Cattleman’s level delicious. No kites, but how about some Netflix? No Twins, although we could have a backyard catch. The forecast predicts below-normal temperatures, so at least it will feel like home, where Easter egg hunts often occurred on snowpack.

The “buts” and “althoughs” are OK. Necessary, even. To carry on normally would be wrong, and selfish.

The day’s message of sacrifice, redemption and rebirth is a better plan. And it’s a perfect fit for the moment. Especially redemption if I burn the chicken.

Yeah, we’re hiding with the eggs. But we’re here. And once we make it through this, we may even cherish this moment of forced togetherness. It will be something to talk about next Easter, maybe while we’re loading up at the buffet.

Comments: (319) 398-8262; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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