Mondays: Easter Ammo
I ruined the Easter Bunny in the car ride home after my parents' Good Friday service.
To be fair, he asked -- Fisher, I mean. My parents sing in their church choir, and we went to their Good Friday concert. Fisher made them an encouraging sign using a deconstructed offering envelope from the church pew and multi-colored pens from my purse. The sign said, "Go Poppy and Gramma!" There's no way they could see it all the way up there in the chancel, but I appreciated the effort and the fact that he wasn't looking at an iPad.
It was a fine service. Nice music. But I haven't gone to church regularly since the choice was mine to make, and if I'm being really honest, it doesn't feel like home. I talk to God all the time -- in my head, in my journal, in my songs, in my conversations with friends, in my actions (some of them), in my joy, in my curiosity -- but that feels like a cliché to say. I always feel a little stiff and guarded in a church pew.
Anyway... Good Friday.
Pulling out of the parking lot, Fisher asked, "Is the Easter Bunny real?"
He asks this about Santa, too. My patented answer: "What do you think? What does Santa represent? Generosity? Magic? Wonder? Joy? Are those things real?"
Duh. Of course. And then the moment passes, and I have neither lied nor killed the buzz.
"Is the Easter Bunny real?" he asked again.
I asked him what he thought, and he said he thought the Easter Bunny was just parents pretending.
I asked him what the Christian celebration of Easter was about. He summarized the story -- Jesus being crucified and then coming back from the dead. I asked him what he thought the connection might be between a story like that and a big bunny leaving candy in baskets.
"Maybe Jesus saved a rabbit or something?" he asked.
[Hold that thought.]
"Maybe," I said. "Think about what happens in Spring. All Winter, the trees are bare, the ground is frozen, the grass is brown, and the animals are hibernating. Then it warms up, and the trees bud, and green things sprout, and birds sing in the morning, and bunnies show up in the yard... It's like everything dies and then comes back to life."
We talked about eggs -- how new life hatches from eggs. And the Jesus story is at least partly about new life after death. And I told him that interestingly enough, Christian celebrations line up with Pagan holidays -- that we all find things to celebrate when the seasons change.
Then he asked me what "Pagan" meant. I told him that it was when people worship nature and the earth. And that's when my Southern Baptist roots made my palms sweat, because when you're a kid growing up in a Southern Baptist church, "pagan" is a synonym for "satanist" or "horned beast fornicating in the woods covered with sheep blood".
(Later, I would learn that "neo-Pagan" was the word I was looking for.)
I told him there was a Pagan Easter story. I couldn't remember exactly what it was, but we'd look it up when we got home. We didn't. We never do. I always forget by the time my key hits the door. My poor memory + Car rides that last more than 30 seconds = My child as an adult with many unanswered questions.
Today I remembered and looked it up.
Eostra, the Germanic goddess of spring and fertility, crossed a rainbow bridge at the bidding of a young girl to turn a dying bird into a bunny. She told the girl that a bunny would return once a year with rainbow colored eggs. Or something like that. [Please refer back to when Fisher proposed that Jesus saved a rabbit.]
I also read that humans have been decorating eggs for basically ever. Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and Kalahari Bushmen engraved ostrich eggs. Early Mesopotamian Christians dyed eggs red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Painted eggs are all over worlds of creation myths.
But I couldn't remember all of these things while I was driving home from my parents' Good Friday service, so we talked in non-specifics. Exasperated, Fisher huffed, "Just tell me if the Easter Bunny is real."
"What do you want me to tell you?" I asked.
"The truth," he said.
"No, the Easter Bunny is not real."
"So parents just lie to their kids?" he asked, angrily.
"Yes," I said.
"You'll still get an Easter basket," I told him.
"I don't care." I watched him in the rearview mirror. I've been watching him in the rearview mirror for the last 10.5 years. He looks out the window when he thinks. His thinking face is the same at age 10 as it was at age 3.
"Mom," he said.
"If you need some ideas for my Easter basket, I really need a nerf gun ammo pack. I'm running out of bullets."
"I'm not going to put bullets in your Easter basket," I said.