I used to be best friends with the Cadbury Bunny, all the Peeps (they’re kind of like Gladys Knight’s Pips, but they’re Peeps), and every color M&M. I used to know well the texture of bright green mass-manufactured fake grass, and would tuck it lovingly, professionally even, into woven baskets so flimsy that the kids would laugh delightedly when slammed in the face with one by an over-sugared, exhaustion-crazed sibling.
Sure, through the years I forgot the Easter bunny visit once or twice due to parental brain cramping; I have done the mad Saturday night 9 PM dash to CVS in my slippers, scouring the empty candy shelves for a stray bag of Circus Peanuts or even a lame strip of lollipops in cellophane, wondering if batteries, a thermometer and some scouring pads could somehow pass for goodies in the morning basket. But all that has changed now … all of my own baby bunnies grew up.
Thankfully I do still have one son at home, my fifteen year old, so I am trying to hang in there with our old traditions and get him interested in the ol’ Easter basket one more time.
“What do you want in your Easter basket this year?” I said to him yesterday while we were driving to baseball practice, smiling at him while trying to scream enthusiastically over the sound of Jammin’ 94.5. (A woman seemed to be in a lot of emotional pain in “da club” on the song that was playing.)
“Maybe some wicked cool Sweet Tarts, or some rockin’ Trident gum?” He stared at me under hooded eyelids. “Maybe a video game or a new hockey stick?” he replied, looking up from his iPhone, which was bleeping with incoming texts.
“What?” (Insert sound of record player arm scratching over an album.) The bunny wasn’t rich! The bunny is paying off college bills for older kids, had to get a new Mazda SUV when she totaled the old Volvo wagon, and she was hoping to get a new grill from Home Depot! She has two credit card bills, and an un-met deductible for recent dental work! Did he understand … did he have any idea just how tapped out the bunny is?
Clearing my throat, I called myself back to order. When confronted with spending dollars, I go right to the heart of the matter, in a sort of defensive way.
“Do you remember what Easter is all about?” I asked huffily. “Do you even remember that this time is about our souls, our spirits, our understanding of the gift God gave us?”
My son laughed. “Of course I do, Mom — I’m in Confirmation class! And hello — I caught you reading Old Testament for Dummies last week. You are the one that wants to give me candy!”
And so, he was right. My struggle was between letting this boy — my last son — grow up, and also keeping him my baby. The quiet, bittersweet act of saying goodbye to dear old little-kid traditions, and saying hello to new adventures with a wonderful teenager. (“Adventures” is a very positive word to pair with “teenager.” This isn’t my first rodeo.)
Still, I miss the Easter bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus. They are sitting in a corner of my heart (linking arms cordially, I like to think, perhaps playing cards), waiting to be called up to bat again. Suddenly, I brightened. Wait, it isn’t over yet…someday…grandchildren!
I made a note to call my oldest son, living down in Nashville. How serious was he with his girlfriend? Should I stock up on Easter grass yet?
For me, I feel lucky to know what I know to know: the meaning of Easter was in the car with me, and all around me. I am so lucky to have a healthy, happy family, lucky to have an eternal future, thanks, as Christians all around the world believe, to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
On Easter Sunday we will all hopefully stop – whether in church, at home, or in a faraway country — and say a prayer of gratefulness and a joy we can’t define, not because of what we can buy, but instead for what was bought for us. The Easter bunny pales next to that — but he sure was a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see him again someday…”Grammy” will be ready!
Happy Easter and a blessed Passover to all, and to all a good night. (Oh no, there I go again!)
Deirdre Reilly has written one humor book, and authored a syndicated family life column for Gatehouse Media for 13 years. She has won a Massachusetts Press Award for humor, her op-eds have been published in the Boston Herald and The Hartford Courant, and she has had short fiction published in literary journals. Deirdre was raised in Columbia, Md., and now lives outside Boston, Ma. She enjoys outdoor pursuits, and is obsessed with the care and happiness of a retired carriage horse named Nello that she bought for a few hundred dollars on a menopausal whim.