The Easter Bunny and other Mythological Creatures


Easter bunny

This year my son and I will have the “talk” about all the mythical creatures of his childhood – starting with The Easter Bunny.

He is eight and a half, so, naturally, last year around Christmas he asked a few smart questions about Santa. How does he do it? What if kids don’t believe, do they get presents? Why don’t you get gifts from him? Each question was answered the same way, “Well, what do you think about it?” And when he gave a reasoned response, I replied and said, “That could certainly be what happens.” When he had no answer, I said, “Does it matter how it’s done? Isn’t what’s most important about Christmas the time we get to spend with family?” And, he agreed.

The Easter Bunny is a little different.

We don’t attend a church, so explaining why we celebrate Easter has been somewhat more complicated from the beginning. I’ve talked about traditions and good food but, unfortunately, family is not always a big part of our Easter celebrations. I’m a single mom who lives quite far away from my family (7+ hours), and we don’t always have the ability to drive and see them in April.

Last year Easter fell during our school break, so we were on vacation, driving to Florida. We stopped halfway in North Carolina, and the hotel we were staying in had an Easter Egg hunt for the kids. On Easter morning, he woke up to the basket I had packed and our traditional breakfast of orange sweet rolls, cantaloupe, and scrambled eggs. I thought I’d done ok keeping the holiday alive while far from home. I didn’t.

That afternoon, the Easter egg hunt was a bloodbath. Kids of all ages were running and diving for eggs. Most teamed up with siblings or friends to look, and my son was left by himself because parents weren’t allowed to help. He gathered only a few eggs and was somewhat disappointed. He asked why we hadn’t come out earlier to look because the Easter Bunny must have left them at night as he did with his basket. I tried to explain that this was an event that the hotel put on, so they made the rules. My son didn’t understand and was left with doubt.

I didn’t want him to hate Easter or the Easter Bunny or our vacation. So, I continued to explain away the sadness he was feeling but that left me feeling sad. I didn’t want to lie to my son. I know that sometimes we don’t tell the whole truth to protect our children, but how could I answer directly with a lie when asked a direct question? I promised myself that if he asked me, “Is there an Easter Bunny?” I would answer truthfully.

He never did.

So we had a great vacation, he forgot about that awful egg hunt, and I was in the clear until a few months later when he lost a tooth.

He lost it at school, and the nurse sent him home with the tooth in a plastic tooth holder she’d made into a necklace so he wouldn’t lose it. He told me that they did this for all the kids to go home and put it under their pillow for the tooth fairy. I braced myself all evening for the question: “Is the Tooth Fairy real?” But it never came. So I kept the story alive and snuck into his room that night, replacing his tooth with a five dollar bill.

The excitement on his face that morning made me want to keep this “magic” alive forever.

Would it be creepy to sneak into his college dorm room after he lost his wisdom teeth? But seriously, I now doubted the promise I’d made to myself.

Luckily, something snapped me out of it. That something was the dreaded Elf on the Shelf.

I never had one at my house because, honestly, I thought it was just one more thing to add to my to-do list. His third-grade teachers felt differently. This year they had an Elf on the Shelf in his class, watching the students. One day my son came home in tears. He said that since he had a rough day at school, the Elf would tell Santa and he was going to be on the naughty list and not get any presents this year. I swallowed my anger and asked, “Who told you that?” He said he just knew. That his teachers explained at the beginning of the month, the Elf was watching them and reporting back to Santa, so they had to be well behaved.

As a teacher, I respect the by any means necessary approach to classroom management, but as a mom, I was mad. Wasn’t it my job as a parent to teach my children about holidays and traditions? And, what about the students who didn’t celebrate Christmas? So that’s what I pointed out to my son. I said we’d never had an Elf on the Shelf, and yet each year, he had a great Christmas. He agreed and calmed down. Again I braced for the question that never came.

He never directly asked whether Santa was real. Perhaps he knows, deep down, that it’s impossible, and he’s ok with that. Or, maybe he’s still just my baby. Either way, I know we are both ready to have the “talk” over Easter breakfast this year.

What are your thoughts? Have you had to break the news to your child(ren)?


  1. We have to have this talk in our house soon, too! I saved a letter on Pinterest and it made me feel better about what I will say … I really want to keep the magic of the holidays alive for my son. I also want him to understand the importance of not telling his younger siblings or other kids at school. I can’t tell you how well it worked, but maybe the letter will give you a starting point, too. 🙂 I don’t think I can post a picture on the comments here, so will share on your Instagram account!

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