I don’t remember when I learned the Easter Bunny wasn’t real.
Actually, I think the Tooth Fairy came first. Or maybe Santa. Either way, the fact that I have no recollection of a moment of shock and disappointment is a big hint that, likely, there was no moment of shock and disappointment.
At some point, I just knew. My sister too. We’d probably suspected all along. Kids aren’t stupid, you know. Like adults, they know more than you think they do and less than they think they do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy stories. In fact, they love them more than adults most of the time.
So much, in fact, that they’ll gladly accept the minor inconvenience that most of them aren’t real. The world is tough enough. It’s not always a warm and welcoming place, and we all grow up sooner or later. But then why not cherish something that makes us feel warm and welcome inside? Regardless of how cold the outside may be.
I’m sure in today’s world of constant data monitoring through our devices, our own obsession with tracking everything, and science being more relevant than ever, there are many good arguments for not fooling your children with the existence of magical creatures. But, even though these things can make our lives better, they sometimes lack that precise quality that makes some traditions feel special in our children’s eyes: magic.
When there’s an Easter Bunny you might catch hopping over the garden fence, a Santa whose foot you might glimpse in the chimney, a tooth fairy who helps you get over the pain of losing your first tooth, the world looks a little brighter despite being the same it ever was. And who couldn’t use some of that today?
Believing in holiday characters as a child gave me touch points with faith. And I don’t necessarily mean religion, though that’s a kind of faith many people wish they could choose more easily again as adults.
I don’t know what your beliefs are and your culture may be vastly different than mine, but I know it has magic. Maybe, a smart fox delivers presents to children, maybe there’s a way to send your ancestors’ ghosts a message, maybe seeing an owl is a sign of good luck. Wherever the magic hides, don’t squash it for your children. They might do that all on their own soon enough.
That’s why the ‘how’ of this transition really matters. How’d you learn? Did your mom tell you “it’s time to grow up?” Did your dad call Santa stupid? Or did they gently phase out the fiction so that some of the magic could remain?
I think I know why there was no big-bang-style revelation for my sister and I: When we stopped looking for the Easter Bunny, we started seeing our parents, trying their best to keep alive the magic. As a result, so did we.
It’s a kind of magic that still makes a positive difference in our lives today. It comes in the shape of optimism, determination, and a pinch of blue-eyed this’ll-work-out-ness. It’s dressed in kindness, laughter, and a spirit of curiosity. It’s a pair of glasses that makes our memories look shiny and our future look exciting, no matter what it holds.
Now I don’t know about you, but I want my kid to one day carry that same magic. And if hiding a few eggs is all it takes, then who am I not to try?