The Easter Bunny is one of those things my generation accepted without question. Seriously, what societal influencer developed the notion of a rabbit who travels the world hiding eggs filled with chocolate? When you really consider it, the concept sounds like something concocted in a smoke-filled van outside a Grateful Dead concert. Yet millions of kids wake up every Easter morning to find their stash of chocolate and run in search of colorful eggs.
There seems to be a new movement afoot where parents refuse to “lie” to their children with traditional holiday antics. That’s fine – your kid, your parenting choices. I rather liked seeing the excitement when my children were younger and I’m not sure what kind of parent I would have been without a ruse or two.
I remember filling and hiding the eggs – sleepy, happy girls finding them and then watching their dilemma over which chocolate ear to gnaw off first. I loved that stuff.
Our kids are older now. Two are home for the holiday and won’t wake up at the crack of dawn for anything – certainly not candy they can now afford for themselves. But my lovely wife is old-school. Last night, she retrieved the baskets and produced two huge bags of candy that she had hidden away. I laughed and went back to whatever I was doing… until I heard her crying.
It took a while for me to understand the problem. She finally stopped weeping enough to say,
“I bought four bunnies.”
I’ve been thinking about expectations a lot lately. We all have a certain menu of expectations that are created for various reasons – some we manufacture ourselves and some exist because of the age and culture in which we live.
For example, in the twenty-first century in western society, we expect to outlive our children. Modern medicine has achieved so much over the past century that we have an expectation. In 1900 the global mortality rate for children under 5 was an astounding 36.2%. People only hoped their children would live. By 1960 it had fallen to 19% and now it is down to 4.3%. Can you even imagine a time when 20% of children didn’t make it to their fifth birthday? Of course you can’t – because we have come to expect our children to live.
We buy four bunnies.
Two thousand years ago, the disciples bought four bunnies. Up until Jesus was arrested, they were confident that he was the promised Messiah – the one the Jews taught would come with a sword and end the Roman oppression. As they watched him die on the cross, I wonder how bitterly they wept over the extra bunny.
The Roman soldiers at the empty tomb bought four bunnies. They never expected a dead body to rise and evaporate under their watch. Roman law dictated that the punishment for their crime would be decimation – where the soldiers cast lots to see who was the loser. The “winners” would then be forced to beat the loser to death. Think they regretted their purchase of the extra bunny?
The extra bunny creates quite an issue because it represents the gap between what we believe should happen but does not. And who do we blame for broken expectations?
Expectations can be killers, destroying contentment and robbing perspective.
I never expected Kylie to die. It never dawned on me that it would happen. There was a huge gap between my expectation and my reality.
I also never expected that I would have little desire to go to church on Easter Sunday. That was always a given. But now, as I wrestle with God over unmet expectations, I find it hard to listen to songs and sermons extolling the empty grave when I’ve put my child in one. Oh, I still believe. But like so many others, I struggle.
I held my wife until the tears subsided and then surveyed the candy she had purchased. There were more than a couple of bags. She bought way too much. Our girls are healthy eaters and will have this candy well into the fall unless a large, rabid bear (possibly named daddy) raids the pantry. Surprisingly, as cheap as I am, I’m glad. Not because I’m happy for the midnight snack. I’m glad because her natural bent is to shun the cost and expect the best.
While expectations can be killers, their absence can lead to despair.
Expectations represent hope. While it might hurt at times, we need the extra bunny.
Kylie would have bought the extra bunny – ten times over! Right now, I can picture her hiding eggs in heaven for the younger children whose parents never expected them to be where they are. She’s watching with a knowing smile as they search for the last one that eludes them. Unlike me, she won’t allow them to struggle long. She will give away its hiding place quickly.
That’s because she’s got her mother’s heart – the kind that buys the extra bunny.
Don’t let your unmet expectations drag you down. Easter morning and the empty tomb provide a hope that can bridge the gap between your expectations and your reality.