In our home, traditions are all about family- and designed with creativity and flexibility.
Like last Easter, when I decided that Zoe’s excitement over her soon to be arriving Easter basket coupled with her fear that the “ Easter Bunny would be in our house” wasn’t worth a sleepless, stress filled night. So the Easter “ baskets” arrived after dark, with a “ glowing” Easter egg hunt beginning on the backyard patio. ( Yes, I bought into the Pinterest rage of glow-stick Easter eggs and you know what? It rocked) When you spend a lot of time at home, these family fun traditions are important.
And this year, as Easter draws near,Zoe is excited again. This time hoping her Easter basket includes not the wholesome Beach Barbies the bunny brings each year, but instead a goulish pink haired Monster High doll in roller skates. I was grieving the loss of Beach Barbie, thinking about how Zoe is growing up, when suddenly it occurred to me that I had missed something I don’t usually miss.
I am very careful to make sure that Zoe has a sense for what is appropriate and even, having Zoe’s big sister to help me, what is trendy. Not just socially but that Zoe is current with her clothes and some current events . The music scene Zoe takes care of herself, requesting her sister play her favorites on Spotify. In fact, between Zoe pestering me for a cell phone and an Instagram account, she is quick to tell me often that her friends stay up much later than she does ( regardless of the fact that she hasn’t mastered telling time reliably yet.)
So what the heck was I thinking letting my soon to be sixth grader fixate over the Easter Bunny? Well, it’s fun. I like the oohh’s and ahhs and I admit it, the little girl excitement on her face, how happy she gets when the holiday decorations are hung and well..her smile warms you , so I kinda got lost in all the fun stuff. Except that Zoe is a social kid, and blessed with a group of kids who play games and hang with her each day at lunch recess, and as sweet as they are ..will they hold back their laughter if Zoe starts talking about what the Easter Bunny brought her?
The time had come, and with that I knew, the crashing reality that Mom & Dad are Santa too. More specifically, that the guy singing Jingle Bells who arrives early each Christmas Eve in the commercial-quality fancy Santa suit, a soft white beard and shiny black boots is actually her Daddy, excited and thrilled to give his girls their Holiday Barbies each year. And that yeah, Mommy kissing Santa these last couple years hasn’t quite been as scandalous as it seemed, because well.. I kiss Santa every day.
I went to my husband before the big talk and told him it was time. His first response was “ My heart’s gonna break.. “ His second? “ Let Ollie do it!” ( Big Sister). Ollie herself figured it out a few summers ago, while her Dad was out of town. He missed her two hour long sob fest, as no amount of comforting could soothe her loss of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.
So yesterday, not too close to bedtime , but when there was some quiet time in the afternoon I sat with Zoe. I began talking about what a big girl she has become, and how proud I am of her. She is so determined , independent and excited about middle school. I asked her if she was excited about Easter and what was her favorite part? She was quick to gush about the stuffed animals and Easter decorations, the sugar cookies we would make, but then she drew her breath, paused and said “ the best part about Holidays is spending time with my family.”
“ Holiday traditions are about family” thankful for the lead-in. “ And when you are little, Mom & Dad help create traditions that are magical for kids, so that you experience the fun and excitement of the holiday. .” For simplicity sake, I left religion out of this conversation. I went on “ So your parents, your Mom & Dad, make this magic, by pretending to be The Easter Bunny. “ No going back now I thought, seeing her mouth fall open in surprise. “ We pretend to “ be” the Easter Bunny, hiding the Easter eggs, filling your baskets and leaving them for you on Easter morning.”
At this point, she stopped me “ Really? You and Daddy?” She was surprised, but she was smiling, she looked... elated. No shock, no tears- just smiles. After I assured myself, she really did understand the magnitude of this, I went on to Christmas.
“ So”.. I said. “ Now that you know the Easter Bunny is really, Mom & Dad. What do you think about Santa Claus?” “ You” - she responded, pointing her finger at me. I watched her process this, the changing emotions visible on her face. “ And Santa is..” she began, and pointed at Daddy, who was now nearby. I nodded.
We sat in the quiet for a moment, and then she was coming toward me, her arms clumsily wrapping around my shoulders as I pulled her the rest of the way into me.
“ Thank you, Thank you ..for being the Easter Bunny and Santa and for making our family time so special. I love my family” she said, sighing happily.
After, I sat alone. Thinking. I was so involved in the little girl fun and traditions, the “ Mommy” tasks I was afraid to let go of , that I never imagined this.
I never imagined she would inspire me in this moment, as she does so often.
That with the wisdom of the young woman she will someday become , that she would thank me.
I never imagined that she would see what I could not, how special our family time together will always be..... even without Santa and The Easter Bunny.