Where does the irony begin? It begins with my heading out on Easter Sunday to buy supplies for an upcoming May Day (Beltane) celebration. A maypole is planned; I needed 90 yards of ribbon, supplies for ivy and flower garlands, etc.

Wendy and I started first with eggs Benedict at Mad Hatter’s, which boded well: We were so happy sitting there, eating fancy eggs, and we talked and got caught up and brushed off lingering guilt about leaving our friend Kathy at home, hard at work moving raspberry plants in the community garden. I looked forward to enjoying raspberries right off the bush, warm from the sun, and knew that by ripening time I would have forgotten that I hadn’t helped Kathy this chill, gray day, transplanting thorny canes.

No, I had a mission: Beltane supplies, followed by a sweep through Target. One always needs something from Target, and it would soothe our spirits after the bright lights and overwhelming choices at A.C. Moore. A happy program, made only better by our being officially off-duty for child care.

And yet. The first omen was turning too soon off of 15/501, requiring a confusing and convoluted series of U-turns and lane changes before we reached southwest Durham Parkway. It was an odd and unexpected mistake–ha ha, it was almost like God didn’t want us to get there!

At A.C. Moore we were met by an empty parking lot, a darkened store, lack of life. We knew it was Easter. We hadn’t forgotten. But A.C. Moore is a big chain. What? So Jesus didn’t do crafts on Easter?

No. Bed, Bath and Beyond was also closed. Home Depot was open, and I made the carpentry connection. But enough of this–on to Target, then, whose cheerful commerce would make this disappointment fade like a summer tan.

We hadn’t yet turned into the parking lot when I gasped, really stunned this time. Target was closed. The entire Super Target store, groceries and clothes and home décor–all dark, locked and Easter-observing. We sat in the desolate parking lot, stymied and needing to think. A slight element of desperation hung over us like the new-car smell in a new car. But we were in a not-new car and it was just desperation.

Okay then. We were going to shop, dammit, Easter or no. We would not give in to this total lack of separation of church and state and shopping. Stores were no doubt open in New York. We would find open stores here.

Loehmann’s? We were hopeful: Surely they’re Jews.

But they’re Jews here, and so were closed.

I needed to replace my children’s chocolate Easter bunnies (don’t ask), and we also took another too-soon turn that would send us right past Eckerd. Eckerd? We looked at each other and brightened cautiously. There were possibilities at Eckerd. We could look at lipstick and get chocolate rabbits half-off and clear nail polish and who knew what else.

We pulled into Eckerd. The lights were on! Cars were in the parking lot! Aware of our utter pathos, we leaped out of the car and sprinted toward the door. Eckerd! Yes! Thank you, Eckerd! You’ve restored our faith!

The doors were locked.

A sign was taped to the glass. On Easter Sunday, their special store hours were 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

My watch said 3:58 p.m. Inside, the security guard was chatting with a cashier as she closed out her register.

We went back to the car. Inside, we rested our heads on the dashboard.

“I need to go home,” I whispered. “I need to get into bed.”

Wendy barely nodded. “Hot bath. Glass of wine.”

We drove home in silence. There would be no shopping today. Not here.