easter eggs

Spinning Cotton Tales


This year we decided to try something a little different around Easter time.  I wanted to dye eggs, because it’s fun and they’re pretty and I knew Nora would love it.

So we did, with natural egg dyes made from annatto seed, curcumin, purple sweet potato and red cabbage.

Nora was amazed at the transformation of her eggs after a few minutes soak, and we talked about celebrating spring: how plants start growing again and most animals give birth as winter melts away.  I told her the real reason for celebrating eggs this time of year: that (in a world where chickens aren’t tricked into laying year-round) springtime is when egg laying starts back up again.  I’m sure Nora didn’t understand it all, but we talked while coloring and I was content to be able to give her a reason for the fun project.

Then, I talked Chris into doing an egg hunt, because who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? And, really, searching our house for 10 brightly-colored eggs has to be good for critical thinking and all sorts of other skills, right?

Not to mention, I have such fond memories of my own childhood egg hunts, which always ended with a bigger surprise at the end.  I wanted to see that same joy on Nora’s face.I wasn’t disappointed.

For the first time, our holiday weekend looked a lot like a typical holiday weekend.  We dyed eggs and we hid them; and, in a natural progression from planning an egg hunt, even talked about The Bunny.  It seemed to be pretty much unavoidable since all of her friends were talking about him and he was everywhere.

Even skating at the ice rink.

So, we did it.  We told Nora that “the bunny” (we didn’t use the word “Easter” much) was going to come while she was sleeping to hide the eggs she had dyed.  At first, I wasn’t sure if Nora understood the concept, but after seeing him at the ice skating rink Saturday, she was incredibly excited.  So excited that she forgot the “while you’re sleeping” part and spent all Saturday afternoon talking about all the fun things she was going to do with the bunny on Sunday.  Apparently, Nora thought he was so magical he was even going to teach her how to pedal her tricycle.

It was really sweet but it was also more than a little worrisome.  Anytime I tried to suggest that she would be sleeping and wouldn’t see him, tears started to flow.  I felt horrible and feared massive disappointment Sunday morning.  I felt so guilty about the fact that I was letting her get excited about something that couldn’t happen.  More than once I thought about telling her he wasn’t real.  When she wanted to leave him carrots just like she feeds Farmer Ray’s bunnies, I went along but I also wondered if I was letting it go too far.  Luckily, Sunday morning, Nora was so excited about finding eggs and her surprise that she forgot she had wanted to play with the Easter bunny.  But still, I wonder if I did the right thing talking about the Easter bunny and I’m not sure if we’ll do it again next year.

I’ve written quite a bit about the conflict I feel around creating or maintaining traditions at Christmas time; Easter is no different. I don’t why I have such guilt about spinning tales about large egg-hiding rabbits; it is certainly different from all the things I don’t like about Santa.  But still, I’m not sold that is the way to go.  I very much want to encouraging imagination and magical possibilities, but I wonder about the line between creating fun memories and betraying trust.  As the tears started to flow Saturday afternoon I kept wondering if it was really worth it, especially because I think she would have enjoyed the egg hunt just as much if she knew I had hidden them.

Does every parent feel bad as they lie to their child about such things, or is it just me?


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5 responses

  1. Hi Amber, You raise some good points here about the consequences of making our kids believe in fictional characters. My daughter believed in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy up until not too long ago (she’s 10). I really worried that she would be so mad at me when she found out the truth, and I really felt bad about that we had lied to her, when we are so open and honest about everything else. I, too, didn’t want to betray her trust. My daughter is extremely logical and mature for her age, and so it seemed doubly mean to let her believe that that stuff was true. However (and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me), I came to the conclusion that believing in these characters is simply a part of childhood. Looking back on my own childhood, I remember Santa, etc., as being part of the magic of it; the magic of belief and wonder, and anticipation and delight. We have the rest of our lives to be hardened and serious, only believing in facts and proof, and in the end I let it go and let it be magical. We eventually told her the truth and explained all of this to her, and she wasn’t mad at all. She was surprised and kind of had a laugh over it. We also explained that if we have any more children, she would get to help us play these roles, which she seemed excited about. All parents, of course, have the right to choose what they do with their kids, but in our case, I’m glad we gave her the memories and joy of waking up to surprises and wonder (even if Santa did get all the credit for our hard work!).

  2. Sarah M Avatar

    I’m interested in why you have conflict around Christmas – is it the Santa ritual or more related to religious stuff? I’m just curious – and you could just link to those posts and I can read them to save you the trouble of repeating yourself. 🙂

    At any rate, I remember being about 8, hearing from my friends at school that Santa wasn’t real, and proudly carrying the truth back home to my siblings – then 7, 5, and 3. I didn’t understand why my Dad was so furious. I’d told them the truth, HE was the one lying to them! I was a bit older when Dad sat me down and explained that when children get practice in believing in something they can’t see, like the Tooth Fairy, they develop the ability to believe in more important things they can’t see, like God. I can’t say it stuck very well for me, happy li’l atheist that I’ve become, but I wanted to share that perspective on it since I don’t hear it often.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      We don’t do Christmas for both religious reasons and cultural reasons. The short of it is, we aren’t Christian and we aren’t into celebrating consumerism. Santa specifically rubs me the wrong way because I don’t like how he is often used as a behavior modifier — children shouldn’t have to earn GIFTS with good behavior — and again because of the highly commercialized aspects. I first discussed it here, and this post talks about how we did stuff last winter.

  3. Hi Amber,
    So glad you had a wonderful weekend with Nora celebrating all the fun-filled bunny activities. Besides what it represents which Nora doesn’t understand, her imagination will do wonders with the concept and your excitement will make her feel good. She will see other children and you responding to the Easter bunny and she has fun. She will find out soon enough, what is true and not. I so enjoyed letting my girls (20 and 15 years old now) enjoy the holidays with all the activities, and they knew when the beliefs ended, tho they enjoyed it all. I admit, I was conscious of what other parents thought (peer pressure at that age!), if I was doing the right thing with many issues. Yes, I was doing the right thing. It all seems so besides the point now. What mattered was they were happy, Amber.

    Enjoy life now. Nora has wonderful caring parents who love her and that is what matters.

  4. Crystal Avatar

    Would it perhaps make sense that if you do go onto included Nora in the childhood magic, that you switch the traditional elements to something more historical? Like say, the history of St. Nicolas, the tooth fairy and the easter bunny? The day she comes to you to ask you and Dad are all of these things really you you could explain that yes indeed however there is an interesting developmental history around each character. And I find it important to note that holiday traditions are specific to how you and your family want to celebrate. It is fun to compare the differences in the way we celebrate. I think giving Nora a special one of a kind memory towards holidays is all you need to be concerned with. Its the memories that will count down the road.

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