“It’s almost Easter!” I said to my daughter.
She stared at me blankly.
“A bunny is going to come bring you chocolate!” I said.
“I’m just eating Weetabix right now,” she said.
I expected her to be excited, or at least have questions. Why does this bunny bring chocolate? What kind of chocolate? What kind of bunny? How does he get in the house? Will I get to pet him? It’s just as well she didn’t, I suppose, because I sure as hell don’t have the answers.
I could never quite wrap my mind around the Easter Bunny as a kid. Unlike Santa, who we all agree is an obese, bearded man in a red suit, there’s no universal image of the Easter Bunny. He’s usually cartoon-like – more Bugs Bunny than actual bunny – but that’s about all we know. Sometimes he’s wearing a whimsical bowtie or a little vest, but he almost never wears trousers. Often he wears nothing at all. Sometimes he’s terrifying.
When I was a child, I imagined the Easter Bunny was like the rabbits I saw in my backyard, which perplexed me. I couldn’t figure out how one of these tiny creatures was capable of carrying a basket of chocolate in its small paws, or how it could get into the house without one of our cats eating it.
Magical or not, the Easter Bunny would have a hard time getting past Sammy. My fat, ginger Maine Coon was known for decapitating his prey and eating their heads – or at least we assumed he ate them, because our garden was littered with headless mouse and bird bodies. Once we came home from a weekend away visiting relatives to find that he’d left a dead hare for us in our bathtub. Could the Easter Bunny suffer a similar fate? As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.
The Easter Bunny also lacks Santa’s extensive mythology. We have no idea where this bunny lives, how he travels from house to house or why he’s doing this whole chocolate-delivery thing in the first place. He needs a backstory if we really want Easter to have Christmas-like magic. It will never quite live up to its winter counterpart – chocolate is great, but it’s hard for a kid to get as excited about a chocolate egg as they would about a new bike or something. Still, I think the Easter Bunny has more potential.
Given my daughter’s complete and total lack of interest in Easter, I probably have another year to come up with an Easter Bunny story that she can really buy into. Or maybe I’ll just forget the bunny and tell her that her chocolate is delivered by a cuckoo, which is what Swiss parents tell their kids.
When I first heard about the Easter Cuckoo, my first reaction was, “Well, that’s ridiculous.” But actually, a bird delivering eggs makes a lot more sense than a rabbit doing it. Of course, the idea of any animal bringing sweets into your house is insane. Maybe the real magic of Easter is that we all ignore how insane it is, because we believe in something bigger: