It's a cool, dim, grey autumn morning. The rain comes and goes in sheets. The light is soft, with a gentle, sad quality that makes me feel good about being inside the house with my family. The kids are stuffing themselves on shoddy chocolate, and playing with a set of UHF walkie-talkies I picked up a few years back. They're happy. Natalie is playing Plants vs Zombies on her iPad. She's happy too.
We also had the less traditional Easter Bastard Bunny visit. That happens when I make up some nice Easter baskets for the kids, with chocolate eggs and bunnies and stuff, and I put them in a cupboard awaiting The Day. But somehow, that swine E. Bunny turns up in the night and steals all the baskets. Fortunately, he generally leaves a series of cunning clues behind. This time he left a series of digital photos embedded as random files on Jake's computer. Each photo depicted some place around the house or property, and when the kids managed to figure out what the picture showed, they found a note giving them the next filename.
Ten photos or so later (and no end of running about) they located their baskets in a box up in the cinema-shed.
Jake in particular enjoyed himself. He played the 'hacker', while the Mau-Mau and Genghis did the legwork. They would charge off to each photo-site, and call in on the walkie-talkie to give Jake the next photo-filename. He would then find the file in his computer, and describe it to them so they could run off to the next location. Of course, sometimes the photos were a bit obscure (damn that swine Bunny anyway!) and they all had to cluster around the computer to figure it out... but by and large, they had a tremendous time.
Out of curiosity, once the dust had settled and chocolate cravings had been dealt with, I asked them as a group why we were celebrating the holiday. The replies came back in order, eldest to youngest.
Jake: "Eostre. It's about Eostre."
Okay. Full marks to the boy for knowing about the ancient Roman goddess, often symbolised by a rabbit, who gave her name to the Easter holiday. But wait -- what about Genghis?
Genghis: "I thought it was something to do with Mithras."
Aha. Yes. Genghis remembers the discussion we had about the Roman Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the official religion of Rome -- and how he had to win the army over to make it work. And the army of Rome was pretty solidly Mithraist in those days, apparently. So the version of Christianity which Constantine accepted... well, it revolved around a solar-hero type, born at the winter solstice, son of a God of light, raising the dead; eating his flesh and drinking his blood was a sacrament that brought life eternal, etc. So -- points to Genghis as well.
The Mau-Mau? Oh, she really understands. "No, it's about Jesus who came back from being dead at Easter with chocolate eggs. And then at Christmas, there's a new Jesus."
Hmmm. Well, never mind.