By Juniper Bell On Apr 28 2011, 5:00 am
My six-year-old stepdaughter has never believed in Santa Claus, but she’s always adored the Easter Bunny. Maybe it’s because she’s an animal lover. Maybe it makes more sense to her that a rabbit would have magical powers than a white-bearded man in red. For whatever reason, she’s never wavered in her devotion to the Easter Bunny.
This year, we did something special for Easter. She’s just starting to read comfortably, so we created a trail of clues leading to the Easter “treasure.” Her guide was a little stuffed bunny who held the first note. It led to a tin of fairy egg bubble gum hidden in the well house. The note with the gum led her to some wild animal stickers.
"Bunnies love buns … open the oven" sent her scrambling to the kitchen, where she found sticky buns from our favorite bakery. “Road trip … all bunnies hop aboard” had her racing down to the car, where a box of cheddar bunny crackers sat in her booster seat. In all, she had to read six notes, figure them out, then dash to the next one, with the final one leading to the treasure.
Hidden in her loft, the treasure turned out to be the actual Easter basket, but, as in all things, the destination was not nearly as satisfying as the journey. I'll never forget the sight of her jumping up and down when she found the Luna Bar in her absent sister's room. "Your sister left you the moon."
The whole thing was so much fun – it brought her so much joy. But in the back of my mind I wondered how she would make sense of it. The Easter Bunny usually just hides colored eggs and chocolate. Why was this year different? I wrote the clues. Would she recognize my handwriting? Think I’d colluded with the rabbit?
Nope, she came up with her own explanation. “The Easter Bunny used our actual Sharpies! Our Sharpies,” she said in amazement. I had to bite my tongue. And later, she announced that it was the best day of her life, because she’d been “chosen.”
“Chosen? What do you mean?”
“Every year a kid is chosen to get a hunt. Like a real hunt. This year the Easter Bunny chose me.” The awe on her face was humbling.
I can’t remember when I stopped believing in the Easter Bunny, if I ever did. I know at some point she won’t believe in him anymore. But I’m not going to be the one to burst her bubble. When she’s ready, the magic bunny will transform into the love of her parents. Until then, I’m the one in awe — of her magical imagination.