The Easter Bunny has risen, he has risen indeed

The Hare’s innocence had been bruised, tarnishing our world of make-believe, after last year’s Easter debacle. Christmas was certainly changed, the thrill of Santa and reindeer left an unexpected emptiness. I assumed Easter would be the same.

“Now don’t forget,” I reminded, “some of our guests still think the Easter Bunny is real.”

“I KNOW, Mom!” snapped The Hare.

Two families were coming for Easter dinner. These are families that we have grown attached to through gymnastics. They each have two girls, about the ages of our two girls. It couldn’t be a more perfect match. Plus, we are all some what family less at Easter. This marked our second annual Easter potluck. We stuffed our selves silly with tacos, borracho beans, guacamole, salsa, queso, chips and various other non-healthy choices. I love how the house fills with the smell of fresh cilantro while the beans simmer for hours. Each room gets a quick makeover in preparation of entertaining. I love sharing my home with friends and family, especially those that truly know that “my house is their house”. No one asks where things are or if they can rummage through the fridge looking for the sour cream. Every one is comfortable enough to take their shoes off. These are the moments I hope my children remember the most about holidays, sharing it with others over good food and fun conversations.

“You know, Mom,” said The Hare, while I was putting groceries away, “it would be a lot easier to play along tomorrow if I actually got an Easter basket. You don’t want me to have to LIE, do you?”

I looked at her in stunned amazement.

“Of course, I don’t want you to lie,” I replied, smiling and shaking my head.

The Easter Bunny made an unplanned trip to Target at 7pm Saturday night.

Now What Do I Say?

My childhood memories of Easter revolve around frilly new dresses, church and big dinners with family. I tried for years to duplicate those memories for my children, but when you don’t live near family and don’t consistently go to church,  it’s hard to do. A few times we’ve communed with friends or occasionally family has come up to visit. But the last few years  have consisted more of our normal Sunday routines: sleeping in and making a big breakfast with the added fun of hiding plastic eggs throughout the house. Once we even had Easter dinner at P.F. Chang’s.

Easter morning

I would have to say  this Easter has been one of my favorites. We invited two other families over. It was a perfect union since both of these families consisted of two girls about the same age as our two girls. One family we go to school with and both families we participate in gymnastics together. We hosted a big Mexican lunch, complete with Margaritas and Coronas. The kids searched for chocolate filled plastic eggs while the adults played card games. It was relaxed and comfortable. We talked about kids and family. I even told them about my Easter Bunny debacle the night before. By the end of the evening, we had already made plans for next year.

I was cleaning up dishes when my phone made a soft ding. A text message  arrived.

Well, we didn’t even make it to the highway and one of the girls said, “The Hare’s mom told her that her mom is the Easter Bunny and Santa.” I was so not ready for that conversation driving down the road. Other than that, we had a great time today.

My heart dropped. I really thought we had prepped both The Tortoise and The Hare on how to handle these conversations. Of course I immediately questioned The Tortoise about not being discreet while talking with her classmate.

“I swear, Mom. I didn’t say anything. But I think The Hare was totally spilling the beans”

“What?! Then why didn’t you stop her?”

“You always tell me I shouldn’t parent her so much and just be her sister.”

(Farfegnugen)

I very calmly sat down with The Hare and asked her about the text I received.

“It wasn’t me.”

“But your sister says it wasn’t her either, so then who was it?”

“I don’t know.”

(I’m so sick of I Don’t Know living here and can’t wait for the day they finally move out.)

I continued to question her and finally she cracked.

“OK! Alright already! IT WAS ME!” she started to cry.

“Sweetie, why did you tell them? I thought you understood that this was something we shouldn’t talk about with your friends.”

She wiped her tears and stuck out her lip.

“I just couldn’t take it anymore. They kept asking me questions about what the Easter Bunny brought and they wouldn’t drop it.”

The Hare's Centerpiece

“I’m confused,” I said sorting through thoughts of solid chocolate bunnies sitting on our counter for each of the girls, the basket of plastic eggs loaded with more candy and even the gifts of Nook money. There were plenty of things she could have said, “Then what did you say?”

“I just said, ‘I’m not allowed to talk about it’ and when they wouldn’t drop it I finally just told them the truth.”

“WHAT?” I blurted out, “Why would you say that? You should have told them the Easter Bunny brought you candy and a new book download or something.”

“But he didn’t, you did.”

“Well, you could have pretended it was from the Easter Bunny.”

The Hare’s brows crossed. Confusion clouded her face.

“So now I’m allowed to lie?”

The Easter Bunny called. Santa is dead.

I have worn many hats this week. Today was gardener, party planner, referee and nagging mom. Somewhere I misplaced my bunny ears.

We trickled in around 9pm after spending the evening out as a family enjoying dinner and a movie. On the way home I was struck with the realization that I had never put Easter baskets together. No clingy plastic grass. No cross-eyed chocolate bunnies. No stickers, games or spring colored socks. I thought about going out again, but I remembered that earlier in the day The Tortoise had asked if the Easter Bunny could just leave her some money for iTunes this year. That plan seemed much easier.

“Hare, ” I said absently picking up dirty socks and mis-matched pajamas. “Instead of an Easter basket this year, The Tortoise and I thought maybe you would just like some iTunes or Nook money.”

There was silence. Then a sniffle. I looked up and saw The Hare’s broken face, her cheeks turning red. “But doesn’t the Easter Bunny decide what I’m getting?”

We stood staring at each other for a minute. I had no idea what to say.

“There’s no Easter Bunny, is there?” she started to cry.

“Really? You thought…”

“Then what else have you been lying about? SANTA?”

Now I started crying.

“THERE’S NO SANTA EITHER?”

I walked across the room, tossing clothes left and right, enveloped her in my arms. We both sunk to the floor weeping.

“Oh honey, ” I whispered, “I am so very sorry.”

“All this time I thought I was a good little girl because I was on the Nice List and now…well, this is just too much to handle, ” she continued to sob.

We managed to finish getting ready for bed and then crawled under the covers together. Tears were shed until we had to flip the pillow over looking for a dry spot. I wrapped her in my arms, kissing her wet cheeks, reminding her how it was a wonderful way to show love to each other without taking all the credit. We talked about our favorite Easter baskets and most surprising Santa gifts. I assured her that she didn’t need an imaginary list to know she was good. The Hare wept because she said the holidays will never be the same. I wept because I had broken her heart.

She just wasn’t ready to grow up yet, and I guess neither was I. This felt as empty as the first time she didn’t want to nurse or when she gave up her pacifier. I had lost another piece of my baby, watched her age right before my eyes, witnessed innocence being broken down by reality.

The Hare was quiet for a few minutes, her breathing more slow and steady. I thought maybe she had fallen asleep.

1 of 2 Fairy doors we have mounted in our house. The Fairies leave messages and little treats.

“Mom, ” she whispered, “I’m just so glad that fairies are real. I don’t think I could have handled another disappointment.”

I gave her a big squeeze and shut my eyes.

“Me too, sweetie. Me too.”