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April 10, 2009

Yes, Dixie, there is an Easter Bunny

A friend wrote to me this morning about having her granddaughter come to stay with her for a few days over the Easter holiday. On the way to her house, the two talked in the car about Easter and the 6-year-old mentioned that now that she was a big girl, she wasn’t so sure there was an Easter Bunny. Citing her awareness of science, since a rabbit is a mammal, it doesn’t lay eggs. Fair enough. My friend then suggested that perhaps the Easter Bunny was magic. She didn’t believe in magic, so that concept was quickly dispelled as well.

“I decided I’d give it a try anyway, this could be the last time as she will be 7 next week,” my friend wrote. Then and there, she decided to create her own proof of the Easter Bunny – at least for this one last Easter, in hopes of making it a very special experience for her granddaughter.

This morning, she unveiled her plan with appropriately placed “rabbit droppings” created from chocolate chips – within eyesight, but not close inspection. Before the astute little one got a close enough look to determine they were actually chocolate, they were whisked away…creating a bit of wonder.

I said "I wonder why there was rabbit poop in the house, do you think the Easter Bunny was here?" She said no and went on playing. Darn.

Awhile later, the cat began messing with an Easter basket hidden behind the television – on purpose of course. This got the little one’s attention and with a little prodding from her grandmother to go investigate what had gotten the cat’s attention, she went to have a look. “She reluctantly dragged herself over there, and she let out a squeal the shook the house,” she writes. Eureka! There is an Easter Bunny!

I’m certain this is just the beginning of what will, regardless of the final verdict on the great rabbit, will go down in the little one’s memory as a most fond remembrance of her grandmother. The sort of thing, decades from now, perhaps a grandmother herself, she’ll smile and recollect with warmness.

I commend her for trying to keep the magic and wonder of childhood alive in her a little longer. All too soon, it seems, children are not children any longer. All too soon, they doubt things they cannot see. They are indoctrinated with skepticism, a need for proof and soon enough they give up the twinkle in their eyes that only a few years later, in the responsibility of life as an adult, you somehow wish you could get back.

I remember when I was probably about 10 years-old, I asked my Mom about Santa Claus. I think I had doubts earlier, but saw no need to voice anything. When I asked her about Santa, her answer was simple: do you still want to receive gifts? Do you still want to be surprised on Christmas morning? Yes, I said. Well then, Santa is real and don't mention that again.

I never said a word again and continued to receive gifts from Santa until my 26th Christmas, the last Christmas my Mom was alive.

Things like Santa and the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy are not real, physical beings in the sense children might believe, but they are real concepts and ability to make unexpected (and yet somehow expected) things happen. They are a hope, a tradition, a faith in things unseen yet felt, and they have the ability to transcend our families, our homes and into our community.

I guess what I’d like to say is this: think about these concepts from the child’s point of view we wish we all still had in a way. If there is anything you can do to perpetuate a child’s belief in things unseen, in particular God and the power of His love, and in a lesser way, concepts of giving and thoughtfulness like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny -- then do it. 


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