You shouldn’t judge my mother. She was a single mom working a full-time job and raising two small children. Of course, she found it difficult to date men who weren’t put off or intimidated by the fact that she had kids.
Perhaps it’s only natural that she gravitated towards quasi-mythical holiday gift-bearing immortal figures like Santa Claus. He wasn’t afraid of children, not in the least. We were the only reason he came around in the first place. That and the cookies.
I’m not trying to absolve her entirely for the relationship. It is always wrong to have an affair with a married man. But the bulk of the blame should fall on his doughy shoulders because of the imbalance of power between them.
I mean, he was a thousand years older than her. Not only that, he had literal magic powers. He just squeezed down that chimney and swept her off her feet. She giggled and asked him to put her down so she could go sweep all the chimney dust off the floor.
How could she resist? One time he took us around the world on a sleigh powered by flying reindeer. The guy mom dated before Santa wouldn’t even take us to Dairy Queen in his Pontiac Sunfire because my sister’s nose happened to be a little bit runny that day.
But mom never felt entirely satisfied in that relationship. Santa only came around a handful of times a year: at Christmas, and here and there. I don’t know how he got away even as little as he did. He must have had some elves covering for him up there.
It all went south on Easter Sunday 1999. I woke up early. I went into the living room to get a Capri-Sun from the kitchen and looked over to see my mother making out with this seven-foot-tall anthropomorphic rabbit.
For my part, I didn’t make a sound. But Santa sure did when he came crashing down our chimney.
“How could you, Sheila?” he asked her, dusting himself off, his cheeks even redder than usual. “And with my best friend, too?”
The Easter Bunny tended to stutter when he was nervous. “It jus-jus-just sort of happened, Nick.”
“I bet,” Santa Claus replied. “And so did this.”
Then he decked him. They proceeded to have a fistfight in our living room.
Mom ushered me into my sister’s room and told us to stay in there and then she went back and threatened to call the cops.
Santa didn’t need another scandal. He was already dealing with some shady Teamsters union dealings up at the North Pole. He left. As he did, he said the same thing he always said as he went back up the chimney but this time it was in a very different tone:
“Ho, ho, ho!”
Later, mom brought us out into the living room and introduced us to the Easter Bunny. He was holding an ice pack over his left eye. Yeah, Santa got a few good licks in. Mr. Bunny was obviously nervous to meet us.
You could tell because he kept dropping pellets everywhere.
They actually dated for several years. The Easter Bunny came around a lot more often than Santa ever had. I guess they didn’t need to hide their relationship from anyone, except maybe PETA. He even went to my Little League games.
People assumed he was the mascot, which is weird since I played for the Tigers.
Santa did not take the breakup with either grace or understanding. Turns out he’s not such a jolly nice fellow. Me and my sister did not get another present from him for the rest of our lives.
The Easter Bunny did his best to make up for it but you can only eat so many chocolate eggs before you develop type 2 diabetes. Mom put us on a diet and we were able to get our blood sugar under control so neither of us has to take medication these days.
The Easter Bunny really was a good guy, or, more accurately, guy-sized rabbit. But he was jealous of other quasi-mythical holiday gift-bearing immortal figures. Especially the Tooth Fairy, which I thought was strange back then since she was a girl.
But I’ve since learned a little more about my mother’s time in college, and he had ample cause for concern. The Tooth Fairy was very attractive, believe me. But she stopped coming around so much when I left something other than my tooth under my pillow.
Unfortunately, mom developed a bit of an unfair reputation among the other holiday types.
Uncle Sam crashed our Fourth of July cookout one year. The Easter Bunny had to throw him out after he winked at my mother and said he’d heard that she had a thing for much older men. “1776, doll!”
Another time mom and Mr. Bunny had a big argument about her going out for drinks with a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day. She insisted he was just her friend. Bunny called her a golddigger. She broke up with him for that but he later came back basket in hand.
By that time, I had entered my rebellious teenage years. This began with half-hearted participation in egg hunts and escalated to me painting only one letter at a time while painting eggs. When you put them all together, it spelled out a rather rude message.
I even started rolling up that fake shredded grass they put in Easter baskets into joints and smoking them on the playground with my friends. Naturally, we got caught. Mr. Bunny was so disappointed in me when he heard about it. He told me:
“That stuff is dangerous. You should be smoking marijuana or something.”
Their relationship ended the night after my little sister got one of her front teeth knocked out by a rogue softball. I wasn’t even in my sister’s room – I was playing Nintendo 64 in the living room – but I heard the whole conversation when my mother and sister and the Easter Bunny went in there to put Tina’s tooth under her pillow.
“Do you really need to do that?” asked Mr. Bunny. “You want a quarter, I’ll give you a quarter. I’ll give you five doll-doll-dollars.”
“But I want the Tooth Fairy to visit,” my sister pleaded.
He muttered the next part under his breath. “Yeah, but not as much as your mother does.”
“What was that you said, Bunny?”
“Come on. This is just an excuse, Sheila. You know it. You couldn’t wait for the day another one of Tina’s teeth fell out. I’m surprised you didn’t tie it to a door handle and yank it out yourself.”
My mother got real quiet then. “I think you should leave.”
“Fine,” he said. Then the Easter Bunny packed his basket and went. They stayed broken up this time.
To his credit, unlike Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny didn’t let his personal life interfere with his work. He still brought me and my sister baskets that next Easter.
He even brought my mother one. He must have been very nervous when he prepared it for her because some of the things inside it only looked like chocolate. My mom said she believed him later when he assured her it had not been intentional.
It was only an accident.
But it still left a bad taste in her mouth.
My mother never dated another quasi-mythical holiday gift-bearing immortal figure again. She stuck to regular human men after that. But I did find it a little strange last year when she seemed downright excited to have to get her wisdom teeth removed.
I saw her a couple of days after the procedure. They must have prescribed her one hell of a pill.
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Lee Blevins is a comedy writer from Morehead, Kentucky.