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Lamb of butter spreads Easter holiday spirit RENITA FENNICK OPINION

Maybe it’s because Easter is so early this year. Maybe it’s because it’s still in the 20s when I wake up each morning. Maybe it’s because my days of Easter Bunny visits, filling baskets with novelties and egg hunts are long gone.

Whatever it is, I found myself lacking the holiday spirit – as late as last Tuesday.

I hadn’t bought a piece of chocolate candy, hadn’t put my Easter decorations out and still didn’t have plans for Easter Sunday.

Until I saw it – that tiny little lamb.

With me, the smallest thing can trigger the biggest of emotions.

And that’s what happened to me this week while I was hurrying through the grocery store for coffee beans and yogurt. After grabbing 10 cups of yogurt for $6, I headed toward the checkout.

That’s when it caught my eye: a little lamb made of butter.

For anyone who has no idea what I’m talking about, butter companies use lamb-shaped molds every spring to help us dress up our Easter tables.

Suddenly, all sorts of memories started washing over me, and some of the older ones were the more powerful ones. Not only was I reminiscing of the days when my children were little and were so excited about seeing the Easter Bunny, going to egg hunts, dying eggs and searching for their baskets on Easter morning.

I started to think of my own childhood – and the vision of my mother who died more than 25 years ago was so clear. I could see her rolling out dough to make poppyseed and nut rolls. I could see her standing on the porch in the cold to grate the horseradish. I could see her carefully arranging the basket of food to take to the church for a blessing.

I think that is what hit me the most – the recollection of that beautiful tradition of blessing Easter baskets. My mother would find a pretty table linen to line the basket, then fill it with all of the foods we would eat at Easter dinner – even the salt and pepper. She worried that throwing away blessed egg shells was sacrilegious so she carefully peeled those that were headed for the church on Easter Saturday.

And, always, at the middle of the basket, was the little lamb made of butter.

Butter lamb-inspired dinner

I’d like to tell the person at the butter company who continues to churn out lambs each Easter that it’s a wonderful marketing ploy. At least for me.

I put the lamb in my basket, along with the yogurt and coffee beans; and, by the time I was leaving the grocery store parking lot, I had decided that I would cook Easter dinner this year.

I called my three sisters and told them to pass on the invitation to their spouses and children. We divvied up the chores: Someone would bring kielbasa, another, the ham and another, the dessert.

It’s easier that way, although at that moment, I knew what I was in for: squeezing two folding tables into my living room, finding enough chairs, hunting down an extra gravy boat and a sink full of dishes.

Anyone who knows what it’s like to cook for 12 or more and to worry about getting all vegetables done at the same time the turkey is ready to be carved knows what I am in for today. But, I just can’t get the image of happy Easters past out of my mind.

As I write this, it’s Saturday morning and I’ve got to do some grocery shopping.

So far, the only thing I have is a lamb made of butter and whole lot of memories.

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