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Tuesday, February 18, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Jill Barville: Bunny takes break, but memories fill chocolate void

For the first time in almost two decades I’m not spending this week in futile resistance to the call of candy. The Easter bunny didn’t come to our house this year.

It’s a surreal spot. Two of our three kids still live at home, but they’re past the point where they want to dye eggs or hunt through the garden in search of candy-filled plastic placed there by a busy bunny on Easter morning.

Since we don’t have any small relatives nearby to watch while they carry on the egg-hunting tradition, the famous bunny elected to skip our house.

Rumor has it he shared a bottle of wine with our tooth fairy, who took our house off his route last fall with his final payment for the last Barville baby tooth.

I’m OK with this.

Someday I’ll resurrect the old eggs for the bunny to use with a new generation, but for now, I’ll enjoy the reprieve from making excuses.

The bunny and fairy assigned to our house weren’t what you’d call dependable.

On Easter, the kids never knew if they’d have to hunt inside, outside or at their grandparents’ house. It often changed. For several years the bunny laid his eggs during the night the way Santa filled stockings, but one year this changed without warning.

Over breakfast I assured the children he’d still arrive but was probably running late, like Alice’s White Rabbit.

“He probably decided to save our house for last because he knew we didn’t have time for an egg hunt before the early service,” I explained.

That worked out so well it became the bunny’s new tradition. We suspect he enjoyed the luxury of broad daylight, rather than predawn darkness. It must have been easier to find funny hiding places and avoid hopping through any dog droppings we’d forgotten to clean up.

In fact, that may be why he left the kids trowels one year, our tool of choice for the task no one wants. Our bunny was prone to practical presents. Instead of brightly colored baskets suitable for Easter egg gathering, he often opted for sand pails or flower pots that could be used all year.

He did, however, follow tradition by bringing jelly beans and chocolate bunnies in the nonbaskets. Unfortunately, he didn’t always choose the best place to leave them. One year he failed to factor that though it was chilly, full sun might be too much for the tasty treats.

The kids came home to find three bunny boxes containing chocolate puddles with candy eyes floating on top. There may have been tears, though their Grandpa had a great suggestion to freeze the bunny remains. It didn’t make their ears grow back, but they became edible again.

Our tooth fairy was worse. A flighty sprite, she constantly forgot to show up on the right night. Often she left payment with a note, several days after the nub of enamel had been plucked and carefully placed under a pillow.

Accompanied by admonishments to brush and floss, she’d write a fanciful excuse about her tardiness, then leave the note in an odd spot, like the back seat of the minivan, taped to the door, or placed under my pillow because a child often climbed in bed with us in the middle of the night.

Once she blamed a messy room as a condition too hazardous for her job. The payment appeared after the room had been tidied.

The most interesting tooth fairy note arrived when a tooth fell out while the kids were staying at their grandparents’ house because Curtis and I were out of town. The note arrived late, as usual, but before we’d returned from our trip. It was signed, “your substitute tooth fairy (Herman).”

Herman wrote that the regular tooth fairy had to go to the dentist and he was filling in but got confused when he didn’t find the tooth under its expected pillow at our house. He had to follow the lost tooth signal to locate the tooth in the living room at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, which he said was an odd place to leave the tooth.

Before then, I didn’t know tooth fairies had substitutes. I wonder if Easter bunnies do, too.

Jill Barville will write in this space twice a month about families, life and everything else. She can be reached at jbarville@msn.com.

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