I found myself today in the unenviable position of assembling an Easter basket for a small child.

This is not in my usual repertoire, but I was the one going out, and Kevin’s youngest really wanted an Easter basket this year (I suspect it is the last year of such things) so I swung by the drug store to assess the available swag.

I gazed at the selection and found myself pondering that question that afflicts adults everywhere at various points in the year–"Has this always sucked, and I only realize it now, or has the quality plummeted since *I* was a kid?"

I called Kevin up and said "Do you want the crappy Hannah Montana frisbee, the crappy plastic toolkit, or the crappy plastic laser sword with a NASCAR action figure?"

"You’re kidding," he said.

"The toolkit is Black and Decker. I have no idea who the NASCAR guy is."

"There’s nothing else?"

"Somehow I doubt Jake will appreciate the pink princess tea set."

"Isn’t there anything with just…candy?"

"No. I could make one. You will owe me."

"I owe you so much. I’m so sorry. The commercialization of Easter–"

"The commercialization of Easter is a good thing!" I snapped. "If we had to celebrate the real meaning of the holiday, it’d be really damn depressing!"

The nice pharmacist shopping for candy next to me doubled over and gasped out an apology for eavesdropping once she could speak again. I waved it off. It’d be a shame to waste my good one liners on one person, particularly when he’s Lutheran.

So I shoved a stuffed purple bunny and some assorted candy together in a pastel basket, arranged it carefully in a kind of high-fructose corn syrup topiary, and strode to the check-out. No plastic Easter grass here. Too many cats in the house, and anyway, the disappointment of discovering that it is not chocolate all the way down is always crushing.

The cashier gazed at it in mild astonishment and apologized for having to dismantle it to scan the bar codes, so apparently I have succeeded on some small scale.

Also, some of the toys make noise. This child is due to go to his mother’s house immediately after opening the basket, for a lengthy car journey.

I am a bad human being, but I find that I’ve made my peace with that.

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