XOXO and Happy Easter


While browsing through the stack of newspapers that came in the Monday mail, a column by a friend and colleague of mine, Jamie Patterson the managing editor at the Yazoo Herald, caught my eye. Jamie was reminiscing about all the little gifts her young children have given her over the years. One is a pecan — the very best pecan found on the playground — that her son gave her for her birthday one year. She said she still carries it in her purse five years later and it still brings a smile to her face.

She also wrote about some rocks  that were gifts from her to her own mom as a child, and when I read that I glanced around my office knowing there are some of the same horded up here as well. Sure enough on my bookshelves I’ve got a rock painted white and a rock painted blue, and a rock with a fish painted on the top and felt glued to the bottom — gifts from my daughter with the year 1995 written on the bottom.

I’ve got a homemade “#1 Dad” trophy and baby pictures, and fishing pictures, and teenage pictures, and prom pictures, and sleeping pictures, and pictures with dogs long gone.

There are pictures with dad, and pictures with mom, and pictures with Nanny and Paw. There are beauty pageant pictures, and birthday pictures, and pictures of things I barely recall.

There are pictures of bike riding on dirt roads, and horse back riding on mountain trails. There are pictures from the first day of kindergarten, a first grade field trip, college graduation, college graduation, and college graduation — yes three — and everything in between.

Next to the computer monitor I watched these words pop up on as I typed there is a clip holding a half dozen notes left on my desk years ago. The last one I hung up there was from the fall of 2011 when my little girl headed off to college. It reads, “Don’t miss me too much! See ya soon! I love you bunches! XOXO Toot,” with a smiley face drawn to the side. Toot, you see, is my daughter’s nickname  — one that stuck like the glue holding the felt on that fish rock — from 25 years ago. I even have it tattooed on my shoulder.

Amongst all the other memorabilia  that I apparently horde up, much  like my friend Jamie, is an Easter picture, from I don’t know when. It is of a little girl in a pink dress, sitting on a tree swing in our back yard, holding her Easter Basket. In the basket rests her then best friend, a tiny black and white Chihuahua, which is now one of those dogs long gone.

As so often happens while hiking down the memory trail, one thing led to another and with Easter just days away my thoughts turned quickly to the holiday, or I suppose, the ones gone by.

The ones when the little girl in the pink dress was much younger and she eyed a display of bunnies or something like that in our home, three homes ago. “Easter’s gonna love this, ain’t he momma,” I remember she proclaimed and that simple phrase from a child of innocence still brings a huge smile to my face today.

Rachel-Johanna was only three years old the year of her grand revelation and had no real concept of the true meaning of Easter, nor the bunny rabbit side of the story either. She thought there was a big rabbit named Easter that would visit her home come Easter Eve. She was kind of right and came to appreciate the other side of the Easter story, the one of Christ’s death and resurrection, as the two continued to be intertwined through the next 22 years.

I personally have no problem with the Easter Bunny, nor with Santa Claus, and their connection with the two most reverent holidays on the Christian calendar. Fanatical attacks on the commercial side of the two holidays say Christians cannot observe the birth of Christ and his death and resurrection along with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

I ask why not? They are two completely different things that just so happen to be celebrated on the same day. Just like people who were born on April 1 will celebrate their birthday this Easter Sunday, and the folks that were born on December 25 do so on Christmas Day every single year.

For the first time in 25 years there won’t be a Toot at our house to dye eggs with this weekend. I suppose her mom and I will do just fine by ourselves. There will still be Easter eggs, after all I have already bought the dye. I am concerned, though, as I was reminded by that note clipped next to my monitor, that I may miss her way too much!

Love you bunches, Toot, XOXO and Happy Easter!