In our basement, next to the many boxes of Christmas decorations, is a single box filled with the decorations of my favorite holiday. In it there are a few special baskets, a Ziploc bag filled with that messy green stuff that's supposed to look like grass, and all kinds of bunnies. We even have a set that is our family -- a mother bunny, a father bunny and two little bunnies.
But this Easter for the first time, the bunnies will stay in their box, next to the egg-decorating material and the array of little stuffed rabbits that usually snuggle on the window sills.
This year there will be no hunt for Easter eggs, and I don't think my big teenagers will miss the hunt or the bunnies. They're more concerned with acceptances from colleges and making plans with friends. The arrival of Peter Cottontail is the last thing on their minds.
My fondness for this holiday goes way back. I have many tender memories of Midwestern Easters. The celebration of renewed hope, cakes made in the shape of lambs, eating all the candy I saved and didn't eat during Lent and the chance to wear a frilly new dress under a heavy overcoat and trudge through the snow to church in slippery little party shoes.
How could you not love that -- and the bunnies?
I could decorate this year, but we are all going different directions on our spring vacations. We'll visit potential colleges in the area, friends in Georgia and art museums in Boston and New York. Peter Cottontail would not know where to find us anyway.
Still, traditions die hard in this family. One year, when my sister-in-law threatened to change the menu for Christmas Eve dinner, there was a near mutiny. So the box of decorations will stay just where it is and in a few years, when my children are old enough to value what it was like being little, they will say, "Whatever happened to the bunnies?" or "Don't we get Easter baskets anymore?" And I'll be ready. The baskets will be nearby. And the little marshmallow chicks and jellybeans? I think I'll keep them handy each year, too. You never can tell when it might be time for the bunnies to return. This is, after all, a holiday about rebirth, so it seems only right that that the tradition will emerge again someday in a new form.