Bon Ton.

To me, Easter means Notte’s Bon Ton.

When I was a little girl, every Easter, my grandmother would make the pilgrimage downtown to the Bon Ton to get my brother and me the chocolate eggs with the flowers on them. She even splurged and had our anmes written on them in icing. They were so pretty we saved them until the very last, after we had even eaten all the licorice jelly beans.

The Bon Ton has moved to my neighbourhood now. I always go and admire the eggs, choosing just the one that I want. Then I stand in the long, long line. The line takes even longer because a) their customer service is in no way streamlined, and b) their customers are middle-aged and older women who want to chat about the cakes and cookies, the marzipan animals, and, of course, the Easter goodies.

The lady behind the counter listens carefully to my request. Then we go to the other side of the store, where the eggs are located. She double-checks as I point to the egg I want. Then she has to weigh the chocolate I want to fill the egg. Then she carefully fills the egg, ties it with a froth of curled violet ribbon, and goes to the back to get exactly the right size of box to cradle the egg. She unfolds and assembles the box, gently places the egg inside on a bed of shredded Easter grass, and ties the box closed with more ribbon.

Then we go back to the other side of the store where she rings it up on an ancient cash register. Next, we go over to the credit/debit machine and I pay. She shakes out a bag and places the egg reverently inside.

The process is long, and could easily be frustrating. But the women at the Bon Ton are high priestesses of confectionery. It takes as long as it takes. They do not hurry the ceremony.

And when I step outside, chocolate egg cradled carefully under my arm, I feel as though I have just been shriven.

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