It's Easter, which in the language of my family means, "Put the Peeps in the microwave and hysterically celebrate the ensuing explosion."

It also used to mean it was time for my mom to break out the "Jesus Christ Superstar" record.

That's right — we were terribly religious.

Misunderstood

I remember being about 6 years old and looking at the extensive photo montage that came with the LP and wondering what kind of fantastic cameras they had 2,000 years ago that could take such vivid pictures. Seriously, and I'm not trying to be sacrilegious or disrespectful, but until I was 8, I thought machine-gun toting Romans rolled around in tanks, Judas was a black man (I'm still not necessarily saying he wasn't), and Ted Neeley and Jesus were one and the same.

I wasn't a very bright kid.

But it just goes to show you the ambiguity of Easter for some of us. This particular time of year is historically significant for many different religions for many different reasons, some going much further back than the crucifixion. For my family, though we probably considered ourselves Christian, Easter generally meant it was time to eat and/or detonate Peeps.

Our Easter was mostly celebrated in our living room instead of a church. It was celebrated in a way I remember being just shy of Christmas (which I also hear is a religious holiday) in terms of magical anticipation.

Bunny rules


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As with Christmas, my grandmother had some serious rules, which the Easter Bunny always followed strictly because, like Santa Claus, he was terribly afraid of my grandmother.

The eggs had to be the two-toned, plastic type with goodies inside, with the hunt never deviating from the living room. Though we dyed Easter eggs, those were never part of the hunt. Which may have had something to do with my teenage aunt not wanting to smear all those "Boston" logos she'd meticulously drawn on hers.

I always got wrapped presents, as well. Which, come to think of it, was probably why the other kids would look at me funny when I'd ask what presents the Easter Bunny brought them.

Some years we'd dress up and head over to Fairyland in Oakland — why, I don't really know. Probably because my grandmother said so. My most vivid memory of that is a near-fatal mistake of blowing a giant bubble and turning around in the car to triumphantly show my aunt. She, of course, automatically reached over and popped it. I was picking gum out of my hair until the Fourth of July.

As I've grown into having my own family, the overall feeling remains, even if some of the rules have changed. The egg hunt now proceeds outside (it still feels wrong) and dinner doesn't always have to be ham, though I keep pushing for Easter bacon burgers — with no luck.

Going to Fairyland has been replaced with activities like planting flowers in the yard. Though, against my will and thanks to my mom, our custom of wrapped gifts for the kids carries on. Of course, the woman also buys presents and works meticulously on prominent table displays for other noteworthy holidays like Flag Day and Bob Fosse's birthday.

As my mom is coming over to spend this morning with her grandkids, there will be plenty of present-opening at my house. And I imagine there's a good chance someone will try slipping in a DVD featuring Romans in tanks and Jesus breaking into song. And, try as I might, I probably won't be able to resist singing along.

Reach Tony Hicks at thicks @bayareanewsgroup.com. Read his blog, "Insert Foot," at www.ibabuzz.com/insertfoot.