easter in miami and the catholics are angry

I don’t know the whole story and I figure it’s something she doesn’t wanna talk about but there was a quick spell in the ’90s where my mom bought a Bible and started getting coffee with other women of about the same age who were also carrying Bibles. In the course of what seemed like a few days there were suddenly crosses on the walls and the furniture was moved around. My dad scolded me for making a joke about Jesus, which was now apparently forbidden.

It seems to’ve been a phase. Christ’s influence crept into and out of our house like an elf: swift, quiet, unmentioned.

I remember as a kid that my dad would say a prayer over Thanksgiving dinner to placate his parents, Cuban Catholics of an earlier generation, but I know there was also an issue with Tia Candy telling him, in Spanish, that we needed to say grace before a certain meal and my dad telling her “we don’t do that here.” (Candy was a bitter spinster who once made a voodoo doll of my dad and stabbed it and buried it in her backyard, and at whose funeral my dad and I stood as two of the only three mourners in attendance, none of us crying. Afterward, at The Big Cheese, my dad justified his eating of a bread roll as “a special occasion.”)

But neither of my parents were ever very religious and now that they’ve been separated for a few years they’re each as secular as they were in the past but, despite this, they both still send texts to my brother and me to wish us a Happy Easter and to lament, as they do each Thanksgiving and Christmas, that “it doesn’t feel like Easter this year.”

I was writing at a Starbucks on Easter morning where all the baristas wished their departing customers a Happy Easter.

Even in the heart of this largely Jewish community, every customer smiled wide and returned the gesture in earnest.

In the late morning I packed up my things from the long worktable at Starbucks and, while heading out to meet my dad for lunch at No Name Chinese in South Miami, got caught up in the traffic going into and out of a Catholic Church on Red Road, about a mile shy of US1, where the drivers, the congregants, seemed possessed of an aggression that might have been at odds with the occasion. That the anniversary of your savior’s slow torturous death and resurrection should be commemorated with an orgy of traffic violations did, I confess, seem odd.

But hey, I guess the day is what you make it.

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