Mark vs Cancer

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Easter Bunny: Ambassador of Deceit

My precocious five-year old daughter has it all figured out: the Easter Bunny is a lie.

This year, I thought I had done an admirable job of surreptitiously masquerading as the Giant Pagan Lagomorph. Due to inclement weather, the EB (with input from his lovely pregnant bride) decided that the eggs should be delivered indoors. So while the kids were distracted upstairs, I furtively ensconced the eggs in the basement. Then I loudly informed the kids that I needed to take the trash out, but once out back, I stole around to the front and doorbell ditched the baskets. I then nonchalantly strolled in through the back door as the kids were discovering the front porch surprise, congratulating myself on a job well done. Even the CIA couldn't top that.

But a little while later during breakfast, I saw my clever daughter eyeing me skeptically. She whispered to her Grandpa Mick, "I know my Dad hid the eggs." To his credit, Gramps played along with the ruse. "How could he do it? He was taking out the trash." But she could not be dissuaded. "He hid the eggs while we were upstairs, and then he rang the doorbell when he said he was going to take out the trash."

Bingo. She had me pinned to the wall, my legs squirming like a skewered insect. "But Joy," I stammered, "how could I be the Easter Bunny? You saw me right here the whole time! Don't you believe in the Easter Bunny?"

Meanwhile, Grant mumbled, his chin dripping with jellybean juice.

So there I was, caught in the act of blatantly lying to my otherwise trusting daughter, defending an outlandishly preposterous lie. Really, what self-respecting five-year old could believe in a giant rabbit who travels the whole earth, sneaking imperceptibly into people's basements or backyards, and delivering bad candy and hardboiled eggs? This is supposed to remind her of Jesus?

In spite of my protestations and my genuine sense of loss for her already vanishing childhood innocence (I think I believed in the Easter Bunny until I was, like, twelve), another part of me swelled with pride at her intellect and her adamance. Here she was with her parents and grandparents--the most trustworthy adults in her life through whom her entire worldview was filtered--all insisting on the truthfulness of an obvious lie. Yet she stalwartly maintained her position, having the inner confidence to trust her own eyes, ears, and intuition more than this gaggle of charlatans.

With Elizabeth's help, we negotiated our way out of the situation with purposeful uncertainty: we admire you, Joy, for believing what you believe, but it's also okay for five-year olds to believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy

But our reassurances were beside the point. Our deception had been exposed.

Soon, we were headed to church to worship a God and His Son whose existence can be felt but never seen, never proven. I glanced in the rearview mirror at the serene smile of my angelic little girl, who seemed suddenly wise yet still blithely unaware of the morning's metaphysical significance. I reached for my wife's hand, hoping--praying--that through the years our daughter's faith in an invisible Jesus could withstand the onslaught of her mental inquisition . . . and the memory of her parents' deceit.


Tankfos said...

Your problem was trying to hide the eggs inside. There is no way the Easter bunny could get into the house and back out without being seen. Come on Mark, everyone knows that.

But seriously, I have never understood the easter Bunny and the Easter egg hunt. What does a giant pink rabbit have to do with eggs? A rabbit is a vertebrate, they don't lay eggs. and how can a rabbit dye eggs? they don't have opposible digits like us. Most of all, how does it relate at all to the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ? obviously, not much correlation.

I personally do not miss the easter egg hunt in the least. Why not save me a lot of time and hassle and just give me a bucket of candy?

Wendi Foster said...

The Easter holiday is a somewhat controversial subject, the relevance of which is debated among many religious faiths (Christian and non-Christian). Wikipedia has an interesting article about it -- read on:

The rabbit, eggs, hot cross buns etc. associated with Easter actually derive from pagan traditions predating the advent of Christianity by thousands of years (and so Adam was correct in his observation that they have nothing whatsoever to do with Christ). Both eggs and rabbits were associated with fertility (human, animal and land) and renewal of life, and the month that we know as April (more or less, given to differences between solar and lunar calendars) was a celebration of the "rites of spring" (see Stravinsky).

During the earliest years of transition from paganism to Christianity in the Western world, symbols and customs of pre-existing faiths were co-opted into Christian practice, and Christian doctrine was also worked into existing pagan tradition (this occured to the extent of changing the dates of some high Christian services to coincide with already established pagan festivals). The outcome of this "mish-mash" is variable, as Easter traditions differ throughout the world, but in my opinion pretty interesting to consider from a historical / anthropological perspective.

Jeff said...

Kids aren't dumb, and I think most of them know very early on that ole Santy and Mr. EB are fakes. I remember knowing that very early, but really wanting to believe because it seemed the right thing to do. Cal's Easter this year included no reference to any Easter Bunny, dyed eggs or Peeps. We did have some plastic eggs with candy inside and when he figured out how to open them, he quite enjoyed that little tradition.

Danalin said...

As an adament Santa Claus believer (I'm not sure I ever really got or believed much in the Easter Bunny) until I was 11 or 12, I am impressed at Joy's ability to discern truth from a pack of lies at such a young age. I think it will be a somewhat sad day when my kids figure out the truth for themselves...

However, I am a lover of traditions. And whether or not you believe in the person or character associated with the holiday, I love to have family traditions related to these special days. I am excited to start and carry on traditions with my own kids. I like to have fun traditions along with the spiritual. You know, a well-balanced holiday. :)

Easter time for me (speaking from a purely worldly perspective) means spring and parks and family and fun. A whole lot of togetherness. So my husband and son received easter baskets with bubbles, a slinky, a bucket and shovel, bath toys, a cheap little air gun that is already broken...little inexpensive things that will bring togetherness and build some fun memories. Oh, and new shirts that will be worn in our next family picture - which is Mom's easter present.

So while I don't feel so passionate about perpetuating a "lie" for all of their childhood years, I do feel passionately about passing on traditions that mean something and give them something to look forward to doing as a family. That is what I most remember about holidays as a youth.

I loved what you wrote toward the end about your hopes for Joy's future and what she will believe. It struck a deep chord and brought a few tears as I am now a parent and have that same responsibility and hope for Max and all of the little ones to follow. Thanks, Mark, for putting your feelings so beautifully into words.

Tyler said...

The Easter Bunny never really got me that excited as a kid. Santa Claus he most definitely was not. The EB would leave notes and be secretive and all, but the most confusing part of it all was that his handwriting looked exactly like mom's and he always managed to hide the eggs that I had just decorated the night before and stored in the fridge. Hey man, why not give me something that's not already mine?

Em said...

This is an old post, but a fantastic one, so I must comment. Your Joy is smart as a whip!

Actually, I think I was her age when I figured it all out, too. It's just different for every kid. She'll be the stronger for it. And...because she's so smart (and such a dang good kid) she'll easily discern the importance of believing in Someone like the Savior compared to believing in something like a rabbit.

Plus, like another commenter said...traditions are part of the fun of holidays. Who cares who brings the Easter candy as long as there's a lot of it? :)