Spoiler alert: If you're under nine-years-old, stop reading now. In fact, just to be on the safe side, let's make it 10.
Now that we've established that you're old enough to read this, I can state the cold, hard truth: The Easter Bunny Doesn't Exist.
He especially doesn't exist here in the Gulf, where Easter Sunday is just a regular work day. Happily, Dan took a holiday day, and the kids had a day off school. In Doha, in keeping with all its glorious weirdness and contradictions, there are a million choices for purchasing chocolate Easter eggs, baskets, and quacking ducks, so there was no problem getting prepared for Easter morning. Buy the stuff, but keep your Eastery-Easterness out of my face, is the message I get.
I have to admit that we did have the weirdest Easter to date: church on a regular business day, bike shopping at the souqs, lunch at a Lebanese restaurant - even hung out at the pool with the kids while the turkey was in the oven.
But getting back to the EB: I've been lying about him for going on 13 years. Not just lying, but completely making stuff up. I've had an explanation for every seed of doubt, every chocolate purchase receipt that's been left out, and every chocolate egg I've been able to find that has escaped the kids' sight. Sure, Nick and Ben are a little old for that stuff, but they have been silent accomplices to my fabrications. They've been operating under the motto of "You've gotta believe to receive". My objective has always been to keep Jacob a believer well into his thirties.
This is not the first time we've spent Easter away from "home" in a warm location. Last year, we went to Disneyland over the break with my parents, and rented a house in Anaheim. We arrived late on the Saturday before Easter, so I planned ahead and brought things to fill the kids' baskets (as did Grandma, as it turns out), and chocolate eggs to hide. In each of their baskets they received, among other things, a coupon booklet for five free Slurpees from 7-Eleven.
Fast-forward to July 2010. It was finally warm enough to even consider getting a Slurpee, so the kids and I piled into the van and headed out to Sev. I parked in front of the store and the three of them went in with their coupons. A few minutes later they came out with their drinks, and as they were getting back in the van I asked Jacob if he had any problem using his coupon. He said no, in fact the man behind the counter commented that they were great coupons, and he would really like to find out where to get one.
"I wonder why he would ask you that," I said. "This is the location I bought them at."
What did she just say?
A time-warp had descended over our van. Everyone stopped moving for a few seconds - Jacob in mid-sit, Nick in mid-buckle, and Ben in mid-door-closing. As for me, I was frantically trying to figure out a way to pull the thread of my comment back into my mouth.
Then Jacob asked, with a look of incredulity, "You're the Easter Bunny???"
Busted. After more than a decade of constructing the myth, of providing perpetual fairy tales for every question of suspicion, blithely deflecting my kids' misgivings with made-up, on-the-spot answers, I had blown it. Not only that, but I had single-handedly set the charges and pressed the button for its implosion. There was no way to unspeak the two fateful sentences that would fell this house of cards and bring to an end this chapter in my children's lives.
We haven't spoken about it since, so I was a little worried about how to handle it this year. One night last week at dinner I said to the kids, "So, about Easter this year..."
They all looked at me and smiled. And then Ben leaned over and whispered, "Just hide the eggs anyway, Mom."