I was patting myself on the back for being organised for my Easter Sunday Hunt this year, while also adopting a new what-will-get-done-will-get-done attitude. As a result, I decided against cleaning under the beds and washing the windows. I resigned myself to the fact that my garden was overrun with dandelions, reminding myself that a ‘weed is just a flower in the wrong place’ and that there was only so much grass mowing I would get around to.
The main tasks got done though. An almighty stash of chocolate, sweets and goodies for a clatter of children were purchased in dribs and drabs to ease the financial outlay. My glamorous assistant, My Girl wrote out the list of invitees and counted out the number of attendees, if everyone invited came to the Hunt. 88 children, not including adults. I only have one toilet. And a Hobbit House. And rain was forecast. I breathed a sigh of relief when the ‘regrets’ came through and the expected number of guests halved.
I brought my Mam from Co Meath so she could see what it was I was doing and to meet my ‘Athy friends’. Easter could have been a lonely time for her. Her sister Aine always came for dinner in my parents’ house on Easter Sunday, my Dad and herself sniping at each other over the roast, Mam keeping the peace in the middle and somehow, each of them enjoying the day. Wherever their spirits are now, I’m sure they looked down on my Mam on the day, Queen Bee in the middle of the madness.
The night before, I was wrecked tired and knew I had to be up at the crack of dawn to do the last few bits of preparation. Mam, as Guest of Honour, was promoted to my bed and I slept in with My Boy. My Girl, with her friend on a sleepover, shared the bunks. It was a proper Walton Family set up. ‘G’night Jim Bob’.
But My Boy was having none of it. It was Christmas Eve déjà vu, when he had a wibble over another hairy lad, Santa creeping around the house, but this time, it's the feckin’ Easter Bunny. Thing is, I have never mentioned the Easter Bunny in the house and never ‘encouraged’ notions about him/it.
Despite this, earlier that evening, My Girl had wondered aloud about what the Easter Bunny might bring. I discouraged her, saying that the Easter Bunny would surely know how many sweets we had in the house and would pass us by (yes, Dear Reader, I had 100% forgotten to buy anything worthy of the EB). She put on her strong-sense-of-injustice face and said ‘The Easter Bunny wouldn’t be THAT mean. Most of what YOU bought is for OTHER children’. Darn it. Fair point, if you believe in the Bunny. I could see by her face that she did. I left the children in the care of their Nana and scoured the town looking for cheap, but fabulous eggs for my pair and the sleep-over-friend. The only decent eggs left were e18. I wasn’t feeling that generous. I scrapped up a random selection of bits, buried them in a bag and headed for home.
Back to My Boy. It was obvious that he too 100% believes in the rabbit. As soon as the lights went off, the tears started, in the belief that soon after his eyelids closed, that a furry animal would be breathing over his head. Two glasses of water, four trips to the toilet, multiple hugs, back massages and random stories later, My Boy was becoming more distraught. The rest of the house meanwhile, was filled with peaceful sleeping sounds. I too was getting distraught as I craved sleep. I thought about spilling the beans on the Tooth Fairy/Santa/the Bunny there and then, but of course I didn't. In the end, I told him that the Easter Bunny only wanted to make children happy and that the Bunny had made a deal with parents who knew their children would get upset with his visit - He had given the goodies to the parents for distribution instead. For the first time in two hours, My Boy appeared calm. ‘Really Mam?’ ‘Yes, really son’. ‘Show me’. I pulled a bag out of chocolate out of the cupboard and he helped me to display them on the table. Within minutes, we were both fast asleep.
On Easter Sunday morning, the children arose to see what treasures had been left for them. The Boy marveled at the miniature golden eggs, wondering if they could be eaten, or if they were metal. It was as if he was seeing them for the first time. He told the girls that ‘The Easter Bunny is magic’. I look at him and see, that despite our discussion the night before, that he really believes too, or perhaps, has chosen to believe.
There wasn’t much time to think about our overnight visitor after that. By 11.00am, 40 children and their grown ups had descended on Poppy Cottage and are hard to contain. By 11.05am, they scatter to every nook of the garden. By 11.20am, the clothes line of popcorn packets was empty, the candy canes whipped from the fences, the marshmallow sticks, plucked from the ground. The various tins dotted around the garden, emptied of their wares and the sherbet string jellies, no longer dangling from the trees. Even the rain had disappeared. The kettle was boiled and reboiled. The smell of coffee wafted. Cups washed and rewashed. The trays of homemade cookies and cupcakes brought by friends wolfed down, with the croissants and pastries. The recently scrubbed kitchen floor and bathroom floor now scattered with cut grass. No matter, clean dirt. By 1pm, the visitors have said their goodbyes, heading off to family dinners and other celebrations; I make a Loaves and Fishes dinner for my mother, brother and family and we do a post mortem on proceedings.
My little, falling down Hobbit House is a testimony that it doesn’t matter what the bricks and mortar look like, just what you create with them.