Easter Bunny Intervention

I’d wake up in my footy pajamas Easter mornings with delight. Beginning from my bedroom door, a trail of tiny foil-wrapped chocolate eggs would lead into the living room, snake around, usually run under the coffee table, snake around again, and eventually lead to a hiding spot. (Usually a corner behind a chair or something.) There, I would find a beautiful Easter Basket, and I’d feel what Howard Carter must have felt when he first poked his head into Tutankhamen’s tomb. It would be an astonishing, shining masterpiece, wrapped in ribbon and brightly colored cellophane. It was a monstrosity nearly as tall as I. I’d tear it open and, inside, there would be about a billion more of those foil-wrapped eggs, packages of peeps in all different colors, a variety differently-shaped lollipops and chocolate characters on a stick. And, always, always, there would be a great big solid chocolate bunny. (My mother always went to the chocolate store in the mall to get the good one too!) She’d wake to find me behind whatever chair she’d hidden the basket. I’d be covered in chocolate and pink sugar crystals, and just as happy as could be. Building those baskets was one of my mother’s greatest joys, and because of it, Easter was one of my favorite holidays.

There was an equally spectacular Christmas morning surprise, and these rituals were carried out every year of my childhood. And then some.

My parents didn’t get around to telling me there was no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny until I was nine years old. Oh, sure, I’d known that there was no Santa Claus for a quite some time, but I went along with it anyway – you know – to keep my mother happy. (Oh, don’t be stupid; I did it because of the toys.) I was more than willing to play the sucker if it meant opening an extra set of presents marked “From Santa”. I mean, who’s going to jump off THAT gravy train on purpose. Right?

I remember the night they told me. It was Christmas Eve on one of the years my grandparents had come to stay with us from out of town, and I was ASLEEP! My parents woke me with an urgency that most people reserve for house fires. “Get up! Get up! Santa’s here!” and they ran out of the room. Once I got my wits about me, I climbed out of bed and headed toward the living room. But the whole time I was thinking something like, “What the hell are these fools up to?” I walked into the living room to be greeted by a gang of snickering family members. I looked from them to the big picture window, wondering what part of this scam was coming next.

“What? Is someone out there?” my grandmother asked as she pulled back the curtain to give me a better look. And again, like an idiot, I looked. I stood there, wide-eyed, knowing I was the butt of a horrible joke.

They all had a hearty laugh at my expense and then my mother took the floor, “You’re that age now where we thought you should know the truth. There’s no Santa. We thought maybe you might already know.”

“Yeah, I knew.”

I must have looked upset. I may have even shed a tear or two. I remember they were all so concerned. I was worried that I wouldn’t get any more presents, they surmised.

But I wasn’t worried about presents. I wasn’t sad there was no Santa. The truth was, I was deeply and utterly humiliated that they had called an intervention to tell me so. “Oh, and by the way”, my mother said, “there’s no Easter Bunny either.”

“Yeah, I kinda figured.”

I went back to bed leaving them a bit stunned that this hadn’t gone exactly as well as they planned.

Funny, yes, but it’s not the intervention to which the title refers. That’s still coming.

After that we started opening our presents on Christmas Eve, a tradition I maintain to this day. But the weird thing was that the Easter morning tradition didn’t stop. The following Easter there was still an Easter Basket waiting for me when I woke up, and the Easter after that, and the Easter after that… Oh, sure, the trail of eggs from my bedroom door had stopped…  but the Easter Basket full of goodies was there every Easter morning well into my teen-age years. By the time I was 12 some of that candy was replaced with a music cassette tape or two.

But of all the Easter and Christmas mornings, there’s one that stands out. It was an Easter I’ll never forget. It was the morning I found a stick of deodorant in my Easter basket. Old Spice to be precise. There it was, nestled there in the cellophane grass among my other goodies. I didn’t know quite what to make of that. “That’s odd”, I thought, “is this supposed to be some kind of HINT?” It turns out that it was. My mother later confessed to me that she’d “noticed” that I needed to start wearing deodorant. She’d been wondering how to broach the wearing-of-deodorant subject with me for some time and, well, it did fit nicely between the chocolate bunny and Queen’s “Hot Space” album on cassette.

The year my Easter basket contained a package of disposable razors I really started to wonder if the tradition should continue. I suppose I could have had a talk with my mother and ended the Easter basket tradition. But I just couldn’t say goodbye to the chocolate bunny. I’d suffer toiletries nestled in among the plastic grass if only to bite those yummy chocolate ears off each Spring. So the tradition continued.

Eventually my girlfriends would receive Easter baskets too. That was a tough one to explain – how it was that an adult man continued to receive an Easter basket from his mother every year. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t a deal killer for the woman who’s with me still.

Now, I’m almost 40 and live far, far away from my mother – too far to send an Easter Basket. This year my girlfriend bought me a chocolate bunny. I bit the ears off while sitting on the sofa beside her watching TV sit-coms. She’s a good girlfriend. And so long as I keep wearing deodorant, she’ll probably continue to stick around.

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