Did Jesus kill the Easter bunny?

When I was 5 years old, I had some very messed-up ideas about this religious holiday

Published April 3, 2010 11:01PM (EDT)

I imagine in the spring of 1980 I had a bowl haircut. A painting of Jesus hung on the wall across from my bed. I can remember frequently covering it with the orange lace curtains that hung in my room. I didn't care for Jesus looking at me all the time. His glowing heart made me nervous.

On the opposite wall from Jesus hung a painting of a clown. Not just any clown, but a clown that clearly wanted to devour my soul.

I was a brainy, imaginative 5-year-old who was savvy enough to know "Family Circus" wasn't funny. But I found it difficult to sleep so close to both a terrifying clown painting and an intimidating Jesus, particularly when the moon lit up my room and their faces glowed at me in the dark. Sometimes I would take them down and hide them in the closet, a terrifying task in itself. My closet contained the steps to the attic, which meant that it was very likely that I could encounter both the closet and the attic monster if I hid Jesus and the Clown. Not a good situation. I couldn't put them under the bed, because that's where all of my stuffed animals were protecting me from another monster that lived in the box spring.

On Easter morning, 1980, I woke up groggy after worrying throughout the night about my various monsters. Dad was awake: The house smelled like coffee and eggs. I came downstairs and saw Easter baskets on the kitchen table, and my concerns melted away as I feasted on marshmallow bunnies, jelly beans and chocolates. I was happy and intensely hyped up on sugar. I put on my dress and ran outside to the car. And then I saw it.

Dead bunny in the road. I screamed, ran over and looked at him. Dad came out and casually said, "Looks like someone killed the Easter Bunny. Get back in here."

I took this literally. I was crushed. Panicked. Somebody killed the Easter Bunny. In my sugar-induced mania, I was sure it was one of my monsters, either Jesus or the Clown, maybe working together. On the drive to church I worried and fretted. I was certain the real Jesus was angry with me. In the parking lot of the church I threw up. My little white shoes were splattered. I cried a little and Mom took me to the bathroom to clean me up.

"Oh, your father shouldn't have let you eat candy before breakfast," she said, cleaning my shoes and a fine mist across my tights. She patted me down with paper towels, completely unaware of how I destroyed Easter for everyone.

We sat in church, where I learned dead Jesus was in a cave, then came back to life, and everyone was happy. I worried that I smelled bad or that someone would know what I had done. Someone gave me candy that Mom immediately took away. I ran around in the church basement eating doughnuts and playing with the kids. At some point there were baby chicks. I played with them until I was herded into the car.

As we turned down our street I saw the dead Easter Bunny was gone, which filled me with hope. I asked something like, "Did the dead Easter Bunny come back to life?"

My brother sneered, "That's stupid."

Mom turned around and said, very seriously, "The Easter Bunny is not dead."

I saw him dead. He was lying in front of the house. Dead. Then he was gone. I asked Dad about this later and, all I remember from the conversation was that I didn't kill anyone and both the Easter Bunny and Santa are really Jesus. It was confusing, but indelible.

What I believed for a very long time after that was that the Easter Bunny and Santa weren't real. Hell, no. Jesus himself would creep out of the painting to give us presents.

By Sue White


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