We were on a rare Friday night food gathering trip at Walmart this evening. I was pushing the cart up and down the aisles when it slowly dawned on me that all of the Easter crap had been removed from the shelves. Gone were the super cheap wicker baskets, the grainy faux chocolate bunnies, the fake grass and the stale marshmallow Peeps. I had to conjure up a mental calendar to reassure myself that this was, indeed, Good Friday. Of all places ... Walmart ... had given up on the Easter trade, two days early.
Strange ... but not so much once you stop and think about it. Easter is one of the "Big Two" religious holidays of the year. But unlike Christmas, whose deeply religious message was lost decades ago in a sea of commercialism, Easter remains a primarily religious event seemingly impervious to hucksterism.
Both holidays focus on one individual, but the message each holiday sends is as different ... well ... as different as life and death.
The Christmas Story is so much pablum. An attractive couple, having difficulty finding a motel room, rest in a comfy hay filled barn, where their child is born. Animals take on cuddly human personalities and "wise guys" appear, bearing pretty expensive swag for the kid. Easter is a brutal, in-your-face reality show, with a scary, implausible ending.
The Christmas Story goes down as easy as a 12 year old blended malt whiskey. What's not to like? The Easter Story is like a four hour old belt of backwoods White Lightning. Rough, raw and choking.
Christmas allows you to glide along. Not much thought needs to be given to accept the circumstances of the birth of Jesus. It's a fanciful story, probably exaggerated to the nth degree, but it ellicits pleasant thoughts.
Easter forces you to make a choice. Do you believe that a man can rise from the dead (little alone move an 800 pound boulder), or is it beyond credulity.
So, it's little wonder that a story that is still shocking in these times, resists repeated attempts at commercialization. Social mindsets are a hard thing to alter, and somebody will have to come up with something better than a giant rabbit who lays colored eggs to turn Easter into a retailers bonanza.