Many moons ago, when my daughter was five, I was putting her to bed and she asked this question…
“Mommy, is the Easter bunny a man dressed up like a bunny, or is it a real rabbit?”
I felt my castle of lies crumbling down around me. I had to decide…truth or fiction. Sweat beaded on my forehead.
“Well”, I replied, “There is what’s real about Easter, and there is what’s pretend about Easter.”
That sounded good.
“The fact that Jesus died on a cross for our sins is real. The Easter Bunny is a game we play.” I proceeded to explain that her dad and I hid the eggs, filled the baskets…you get the picture.
She looked at me with her big, brown eyes and without missing a beat said, “Is Santa real?”
Be still my heart. I was in deep.
“Well, there really was a Santa.” I dredged up some facts about Ol’ Saint Nick. “But what’s real about Christmas is that Jesus was born as a baby in a manger. Santa is a game we play.”
“So, Santa didn’t bring my doll closet and all the clothes?”
“No, sweetie. Daddy and I did that.”
“Do other kids know this stuff?”
“Well, parents tell their kids about Santa at different times. So it’s important that you not say anything to your friends. Let their parents tell them when they think the time is right.”
“Okay. 'Night, Mommy.” She rolled over, closed her eyes and went to sleep.
I left her room with mixed emotions. I was relieved that the truth was out, but I knew I would be accused of ruining her childhood. And I was. But I think if you asked her today, she would proclaim from the rooftops the truth set her free.
The next afternoon I received a call from my daughter’s preschool teacher. During Show & Tell, my baby girl made an announcement. She stood up and said, “My mommy says the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus aren’t real. They are pretend.” And then she sat down.
Her preschool teacher wasn’t calling to expel her. She called to warn me to expect hate mail.
Okay, that's an exaggeration. But it rings of the truth, doesn't it?
I know parents who go to drastic measures to keep what's pretend about Christmas and Easter alive in the imaginations of their children. But in retrospect, I'm grateful my daughter asked the questions she did, and I do believe God gave me the words to lead her little heart in the right direction.
Truth is, the truth is what sets us all free.
Jesus is what’s real about Easter.
Jesus is what's real about everything.