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Papa Joe Mambo's Cellar Full of Noise
I know a place where the music is fine and the lights are always low
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"My Sordid Upbringing" Dept.:

I was raised agnostically by my parents - partly because, pragmatically, they could never afford the time to be churchgoers, but mostly because they knew their own rather liberal belief-system was a lot more cynical than anything they'd been told in church. If they didn't want to go because they didn't believe in what they were being told (although they were both Deists and firmly believed in a Higher Power) that they weren't going to force my sister Linda and I to sit through the same folderol. That didn't stop me from annually worshipping something different every Easter, though.

My sister and my Mom put a lot of effort into completely and categoricaly feeding my rather naiive imagination with the belief that there was an Easter Bunny for the first 7 years of my life. I'd get up on Easter morning to see a trail of shredded lettuce from the kitchen table where EB (that's how he always signed his name - and there was no question, this rabbit was a guy... a slobby, lop-eared guy - the Oscar Madison of Lapin Wonder) left me a letter letting me know that *because* I believed in him and that my Mom and sister when they had come to place their order had said I was a good kid, that I was gonna get a treat and then the clues would start as to where I could find the chocolate he'd left around the house... granted this was also easy because he left a trail of lettuce to each of his hiding spots as well.

Mom and Linda, when I asked about him, would go to great lengths to describe his operations. When they went shopping before Easter I was told that they were in fact off to his chocolaterie where he himself, The Great And Powerful Easter Bunny, checked the quality of the product he was "hiding" for we, the worshipful. They had actually talked to Him Himself, a 7 foot rabbit who walked on his hind haunches, wearing a blue apron smeared with chocolate. Apparently you couldn't help but smell like chocolate when you left the place. I ate it all up - the story , the chocolate, all of it. The Easter Bunny (I would never presume to call him EB - that was what he called himself, I was a humble speculant, rapt in the possibility that He would still come - awash in a world where 7 foot rabbits made chocolate for good kids) was something that I had absolute and abject faith in. There was no question in my mind that what they were telling me was 100% true, and that those kids who *didn't* believe were left having their parents buy chocolate for them so they wouldn't feel left out - but it wasn't nearly as good as the Real Stuff.

This went on for about 4 years until in the second grade some of the kids in the older year (it was a split Grade Two / Grade Three class) decided that they would enlighten me to the real nature of Santa at Christmas time. We're talking a bunch of hardened 8 year olds at this time, man, and I sometimes, come the holidays, ask myself at what point it was ruined for them if they were already so world-wise at 8 and what ELSE they might have been shown before they were ready for it. There are always a few wisenheimers that have to lord it over the innocent in those scenarios. I asked my parents if there was a Santa after explaining what I had heard and they kind of looked at each other and 'fessed up. Mom said the worst part of it was that after they had told me why parents do the Santa thing and I seemed to really be ok with it, she saw a tear in my eye when I asked about EB. She didn't want to tell me but she knew she had to, and I know my sister was mad at the time that she didn't buck up and say "No, the Bunny is real" so that it could last another little while (because frankly, she loved the look on my face when they'd talk about it). I pretty well clock that moment back to when I wasn't really a kid anymore.

Happy Easter everyone - may the time you spend with family and whatever chocolate or goodies you munch remind you all of the wonder of that which was dead and under the ground blooming and coloring a dismal pre-Spring black and white world. May the imagination you had as a child similarly bloom for a day or two at least and may you create something special that you wouldn't ordinarily afford yourself the time to. May you share that with others and bring them some joy as well.

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