Allyson was first introduced to the concept of Easter last Friday at the MOPS egg hunt/picnic. On the way there, I tried to explain why we were going to be picking up plastic eggs and putting them in her Easter basket. I told her a bit about the Easter Bunny, and she said, "A real bunny???" I said, no, it was more like... and then my voice trailed off. I started to say Santa, but in her mind, Santa is that scary, bearded, REAL man at the library.
I thought about explaining the true meaning of Easter, but I wimped out. How do you explain the idea of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection to someone who can't conceive of death yet? So I just told her we'd be picking up lots of pretty eggs.
After that, Allyson was very keen on the whole Easter thing, and she was excitedly awaiting her second egg hunt at our church Easter service, which we actually attended on Good Friday this year. When we picked her up from class, she proudly held out a brown grocery bag two-thirds full of candy-filled plastic eggs. The other two-year-olds had ten or twelve eggs in their dainty baskets, but Allyson had about 30. Ethan theorized that she had pushed the smaller children out of the way and/or grabbed the eggs out of their hands, but I'm sure she didn't do that. (I hope not!)
We couldn't get a lot of details out of Allyson because she was more concerned with the fact that the Easter Bunny didn't show. She'd figured out that Easter has something to do with eggs and bunnies and Jesus, and she knows church has something to do with Jesus, so she concluded that the Easter Bunny and Jesus would both be there. We told her the Easter Bunny would be dropping by on Sunday.
On Saturday, I picked up some Peeps (Allyson's new favorite candy) and some malted Easter eggs (my Easter favorite). The plan was that Bill would buy some little gifts for the kids' Easter baskets later in the day, and I was happy to leave that task to him.
As it turned out, he was busy all day, and when we got home from his hockey championship game (which his team lost 6 to 5), it was nearly midnight. I told him I'd just run by Walmart after greeting at church this morning. We agreed that he'd tell Allyson the bunny hadn't arrived yet, and then we'd hide the baskets after I got back. It seemed like a solid plan.
Before bed, I sat on the couch and wrote out little affirmations for Ethan, Allyson, and Bill and then stuck them into a dozen plastic eggs. On Bill's recommendation, I also inserted malted eggs; he said Ethan would NOT be impressed with an egg that only contained a slip of paper.
I hit the Walmart at 10:00 this morning, and it was already pretty busy--no surprise. I found the Easter grass right off, and I quickly found an activity coloring book and a Curious George book for Allyson. But I could NOT find anything suitable for Ethan, and my mood was getting fouler by the minute. He's at that awkward age--nearly 12--where the boy stuff is too immature, but the men's stuff is too old. He'd made it clear that he was expecting an Easter basket, but I had no idea what he'd want.
I gave up on the super hero T-shirts and Underoos, or whatever they call them these days, and after a frantic cell phone conference with Bill, I headed over to the men's section to look for a funny T-shirt. There were tons of really funny shirts that I knew he'd love, but all of them were in size large, XL, or XXL. A kind saleslady came over to assist me, but I didn't trust her when she said he'd love the only size small shirt: a black shirt with a neon green Marvin Martian picture. I picked it up anyway and figured I'd find something else and just drop the shirt somewhere when no one was looking. But then I remembered the book Nickel and Dimed, in which a journalist who worked undercover at Walmart complained about people doing just that, so I decided I'd have to sneak back into the T-shirt aisle and put it back when the nice, helpful lady wasn't looking. (I didn't want to hurt her feelings, after all.)
After 15 more minutes of fruitless searching, I was feeling very sorry for myself. "Why didn't I just let Bill go out at midnight? He'd know what to buy. He always knows what people want," I groused to myself. Now, I just wanted to get OUT of Walmart. As I contemplated the little hand-held electronic games, I must have been positively scowling because I looked up and saw a man laughing at me. He looked vaguely familiar, and I was pretty sure he'd been one of the other greeters at church. I grinned sheepishly and offered an explanation as to why I'd be so grumpy on the day we celebrate our risen Savior. "My 12-year-old boy wants an Easter basket," I said. "I just don't know what he would want."
I held up the Marvin Martian T-shirt. "The saleslady said he'd like this," I said. "Do you think so?"
"Oh, definitely," he said.
"Okay, then," I said. I swooped up a tiny Tech Deck skateboard model and turned on my heel. "Thanks!" I called over my shoulder as I hurried to the self-checkout line. Amazingly, I scanned every item and inserted my debit card without incident. Things were looking up!
Back at home, I hurried into the downstairs bathroom, where the Easter candy was hidden. I knelt on the bathroom floor and feverishly stuffed purple grass, plastic eggs, and malted eggs into the two baskets. (I also stuffed a handful or two into my mouth, of course.) I stashed the baskets back in the closet and took Allyson up to get dressed for Grandma's house.
Meanwhile, Bill hid the two baskets. After I'd dressed her in an adorable flowered sundress, we headed downstairs, where Daddy announced that the Easter Bunny had finally arrived!
Ethan and Allyson rushed around and were each delighted when they found their baskets. Allyson exulted over her little activity book (with stickers!), and Ethan just loved his Marvin Martian shirt. Yess!!! He liked it so much that I had to cut the tag off so he could put it on right away.
I read Allyson's little Easter affirmations to her. I'd written things like: "You're Daddy's little princess!" and "Snuggling with you is my favorite way to start the morning."
Allyson asked about the Easter Bunny one more time. We said he'd come in and out while she was dressing. "I think I heard a bump," she said. "The bunny's kinda tricky."
"Maybe you'll see him next year," I said.
While he greedily crunched on malted eggs, Ethan read his own slips silently. He didn't say much about them. His said things like: "I'm so proud of the way you've brought your grades up this semester," and "I'm thankful that you're becoming more generous with your time and your money." (More on that story in another post.)
When Allyson cuddled in Daddy's lap to read the new Curious George book, I headed reluctantly for the kitchen to start my Easter cooking (Greek green beans and walnut apple cranberry salad with gorgonzola cheese).
Ethan slipped up behind me in his new T-shirt and put his arms around me. "I love you, Mom," he said, and I knew those words of affirmation that I'd scribbled at midnight had hit their mark.
We continued our Easter celebration at my mom's house, where we feasted on ham, turkey, and too many other yummy things to count. Then we all sat around and dozed for an hour our so, except for Allyson, who was bouncing off the walls from too much candy.
We tried to cut her off from any more candy, but she's pretty sneaky. She insisted on holding her Easter basket in the car, and she promised not to eat any more candy. When I caught her opening a plastic egg, she claimed, "I'm just lookin', Mama." A couple of minutes later, when her chatter came to an abrupt stop, I turned and saw chocolate smeared all over her mouth. She was holding a melted miniature bunny in its bright foil wrapper.
"Allyson, we told you NOT to eat any more candy," I scolded.
"I'm not eatin' it," she protested. "I'm just lickin' it off the paper." (I think she's going to be an attorney one day.) We had to laugh in spite of ourselves, but we turned a deaf ear to her desperate negotiating when I confiscated the basket.
All in all, it was a very fun Easter, and seeing my kids' joy when they found their little gifts made that frustrating trip to Walmart so worth it. Happy Easter, everyone!