Weâ€™re standing in WalMart, of all places. I donâ€™t even like WalMart and almost never shop there. But weâ€™re in WalMart and weâ€™ve just walked past several rows of pastel-coloured Easter goodies, and it twinges something Iâ€™ve been thinking about.
â€œHey Lucas,â€ I begin, leaning down to be closer to his 10 year old ear. I donâ€™t have to lean far. When did he get to be as tall as my shoulder anyway?
â€œLucas, um, I was wondering, do you knowâ€¦â€ I stall. Maybe Iâ€™m happier not having this conversation. But heâ€™s watching me now, as we continue on to the back of the store.
â€œWell, I was wondering. You, uh, you know that thereâ€™s not actually a giant rabbit who comes into the house and hides the Easter candies and the eggs, right? I mean, you know who it is, right?â€ I blurt in a rush of words, still not convinced I want to have this conversation after all. What if Iâ€™ve misread him? What if Iâ€™ve just ruined this for him? Why exactly did I start this conversation?
Lucas is not, to my relief, devastated. â€œYup,â€ he confirms, casually shattering our shared delusion. â€œItâ€™s Granny!â€ Each year, my mother spends hours hiding treats around her place for the boys, and making up lists of clues for them to follow. Before I can clarify, he continues. â€œAnd I know that you and Dad are Santa Claus, too. I heard you filling the stockings.â€
I can only nod, a lump of mingled relief and regret swelling in my throat.
So I guess thatâ€™s that. I mean, we were never very insistent on the whole Easter Bunny thing, but Santa has been a different story. The older boys have always been careful to never explicitly confirm or deny believing in Santa Claus, and I avoided asking them about it, lest I open Pandoraâ€™s box for Christmas.
Itâ€™s easier now that we can be open about hiding the candy and eggs, of course. I can even solicit the boys to help stuff the plastic eggs full of jelly beans and marshmallow bunnies after we paint our colourful eggs. And Christmas Day will be much more pleasant if I havenâ€™t stayed up until all hours on Christmas Eve, trying to outlast them so I can fill their stockings on Santaâ€™s behalf.
Itâ€™s the end of a thing, though. Another of the thousand little changes that mean that theyâ€™re growing up. It will be easier, but it will be harder, too. Easter candy this year is a little bit bittersweet.