To the sound of various surf-tune instrumentals.
I woke up this morning after having a rare chance to sleep in (let's hear it for Catholicism!) and, for an ever-so-brief moment, forgot I was in Iraq.
Then reality came crashing back down and I remembered where I was and what I was doing. Don't get me wrong, we actually have it pretty good here. I have my own room in a house shared by only five people. Having a house is rare enough, but a room to oneself is almost unheard of, even for most officers. Which, by the way, I have taken a great amount of satisfaction in mentioning to them whenever the chance presents itself.
That being said, we are still in Iraq. Away from all the goodness that is America, and that can be felt when we have to miss out on the excess that is something like Easter weekend. No, I didn't grow up Catholic, nor do I plan on becoming one any time soon. However, once you have gone to some one's house who makes it a point to celebrate Easter to the fullest, it is something that will be missed when it is so far away.
One of my closest friends has a family who does just that; his mother runs what may be a "house" or her "home," but to us it is "the resort." I'm pretty sure that what goes on there is exactly what Constantine had in mind when he took three parts Christianity, three parts paganism, mixed well and served to the public. It was a recipe that worked well in a popularity sense, at least. But people like NJ took it to the next level because, while they may include the whole hide-the-egg thing for the kids (and, let's be honest, I have fun, too), it's all about family, friends, eating ridiculous amounts of ridiculously good food, and probably a fair amount of chocolate, as well. Wait, I already said good food...But no matter if you were invited or show up as a surprise guest, not only will you be welcome, you will probably have a present waiting for you as well. I think I got a yo-yo last year, and I'm pretty sure it was way cooler than the gifts everyone else got.
When I was younger I struggled with the question of how pagan rituals could be tied in to Christianity and have it still be "ok." Obviously there comes a point when you learn the story of The Resurrection and, as you sit there painting Easter eggs you say "right, and this has...what to do with Jesus dying and being resurrected?" Depending on your age, you may get answers as varied as "just paint your egg and have fun, dammit" to "it's kinda complicated, and, er...well, uhh, see..." and you never really get an answer. While this does make for some comedy gold (South Park, giving you the nod here), it also allows people to grow up with more than a few unanswered questions.
If at this point you are thinking I am going to answer those questions for you, go ahead and take another drag from your bong and go play XBox (like I'm going to do in a few minutes. The XBox part, not the bong part. See, I'm in the Army and...oh, sorry. Kinda getting off track...). What I will tell you is that if painting eggs, hiding them, then eating and drinking yourself into a stupor is what brings your family and friends together, then as the Aussies say, good on ya. On the other hand, if you think it means beating your wife or children, well then my friend, that means you are living in the Middle East somewhere and you are celebrating the wrong holiday.
So, in short, make the most out of a holiday weekend. Eat some creme-filled chocolate eggs, watch The Masters, and mess with little kids' minds about the Easter Bunny being hunted by the FBI for steeling children and making them work in sweat shops. In other words, celebrate the holiday to the fullest.