MY PROBLEM WITH THE EASTER BUNNY

easter bunny lies lance armstrong manti te-oI should preface this column by saying that I am a really awful liar—I just don’t have the acting chops or the skills to pull off a lie. I never have. I am utterly unconvincing, I stammer, and my face always gives me away.

So being Santa this year was really a challenge. I have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, so Christmas this time was huge. My 4-year-old is much too smart and was already asking tough questions about Santa fitting through our 9-inch diameter woodstove pipe, since we don’t have a proper chimney. She finds every piece of candy we hide from her, and whenever I say something implausible her eyes narrow and she looks at me defiantly. She is a lot like me, and I can remember being very suspicious of Santa at an extremely young age and asking my parents the same sort of questions. Price tags, Mom? Do you think the elves make the price tags in their workshop? Why would they do that?

What really clinched the whole Santa thing for me was the Easter Bunny. My cousin Maureen and my aunt and uncle spent one Easter with our family. She was an only child and we were a family of six, and I remember that by comparison her Easter basket was brimming with gifts, in particular a new Shaun Cassidy album. And lots of expensive chocolates. It was then that I knew that my parents, the people you are supposed to trust the most in the world, were liars.

So it was with some trepidation that I got pulled into the whole web of deceit that is Christmas. Add to this my distaste for how commercial and silly the holiday has become, with our kids making lists of all the things they want, and parents eagerly buying all of these plastic, crappy toys on credit, and I was pretty disheartened by the idea of it. The elf on the shelf? I had never even heard of it, and when my daughter came home from preschool talking about some disappearing elf, I didn’t know what to say and I almost blew the whole thing. Cue the narrowed eyes and the pointed questions. Luckily, we left out cookies and milk for Santa, and on Christmas morning they both squealed with delight when they saw that the milk had been drunk and that the cookies had bites out of them. “He was here! He did come!” they shouted gleefully. I should have felt triumphant, but instead, I felt a little guilty. And sick from eating the cookies.

I don’t seem to have too much of a problem with the little, white lies we tell every day. “We are leaving in FIVE MINUTES,” when in fact we have 15 minutes to get into the car. But here we go again, as spring approaches, and I am going to have to pull off another biggie: the Easter Bunny. I am going to have to recreate the American tableau of the Easter egg hunt and a basket full of things that a two-foot-tall rabbit somehow

purchased and snuck into our home during the night. I mean, kids aren’t stupid. We have tons of rabbits all over the subdivision, scampering around, with paws and not hands. How could a rabbit possibly put pieces of candy into a small, plastic eggshell that looks like it came from City Market?

I know, you don’t have to say it, I’m a Scrooge. I am no fun. I don’t like to talk about the frost fairies putting crystals all over the trees, or the man in the moon, or any of the special tales that bring children such joy and wonderment. I do, on some level, understand their need to suspend belief and tingle their creative senses with playful, farfetched notions. But there is this other side of me, the side that just can’t understand Manti Te-O’s fake girlfriend and Lance Armstrong’s duplicitous denials, the side that wants to somehow prepare my kids for the disappointment that they will ultimately feel when the things that they believed to be true turn out to be false. Don’t worry, I am not going to give up the scam just yet. I will wait for a few more trips from the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. But the truth will come out—it always does—and in the meantime, I just hope I don’t get too many probing questions from the 4-year-old.

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