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Urgent!  Urgent!  I must know immediately: What the hell does the Easter Bunny do these days?

To millions of people — billions? — worldwide, Easter is about the joyful resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I'm not a Christian, but we do celebrate Easter.  I don't feel strange about this, not given Easter's pagan underpinnings.  (Something about a whole herd of determined rabbits moving Christ's tombstone aside, having been informed by reliable sources that there were, like, bushels of apples inside.  But don't quote me on that, as I am no theologian.)  We mark the advent of spring.  We herald the rebirth of the earth after its long winter of dormancy.  And we eat an awful lot of hard-boiled eggs and candy.  Consuming these things is not at issue.  How they get here is.

When I was a kid, the Easter Bunny was kind of your turnkey single-source Easter-related solution provider.  (Synergy had not yet been invented, or I'm pretty sure he'd have leveraged some.)  He did it all: dyed eggs, hid them, and filled our waiting baskets with chocolate rabbits, marshmallow chicks, and those weird giant orange circus peanuts that only my father liked.  (No, we never twigged.  Either we weren't very bright, or were too bright to ask a lot of awkward questions when it came to free candy.  Stupid like a fox.)

But I am afraid times have changed.  Earlier this week Paul and Charlie came back from the grocery store with an egg-dyeing kit and a package of empty plastic Easter eggs.  To my look of outrage, Paul's answer was an eloquent eye-roll.  In a single gesture, he managed to communicate an appalling truth: So aggressively is Easter now marketed to children that it was impossible to avoid the towering displays of candy, baskets, and kits just begging kids to pimp my ovoid.  (If they had meant for these things to remain the province of adults, the merchandise would have been discreetly tucked among the root vegetables, or perhaps the Vagisil.)  And rather than answer a lot of awkward questions off the cuff right in the store, a purchase was made, a child pacified, and a holiday paradigm mangled.

I made a panicked call to my mother.  She confirmed the upsetting trend.  My nephews, it turns out, leave a basket of dyed eggs in the middle of the dining room table on Easter Eve.  It seems that children no longer awaken on Easter morning, dewy-eyed with wonder, to ponder the mystery of exactly how a giant rabbit might contrive to boil two dozen eggs when rabbits don't even have thumbs, much less stoves, cookware, and a reliable source of clean-burning fuel.  Apparently the only thing the Easter Bunny does nowadays is hide the damned things.  What kind of lazy-assed giant rabbit are we dealing with here?

To further complicate the matter, there are two (2) local Easter egg hunts in our area, one sponsored by the town recreation department on Saturday — Note to self: Blandly ask director how we could possibly have missed the announcement of the citywide afikomen hunt — and another for our neighborhood on Sunday.  In short, the place is just crawling with Easter.  As a staunch atheist but an even stauncher chocolatarian, I do not necessarily disapprove.  I just wonder what the hell we're supposed to do about it.

Something, clearly, because Charlie believes, despite being told by a colleague at acrobat school — okay, a little girl in a purple velour leotard at gymnastics class — that the Easter Bunny isn't real.  "Oh, he comes to our house," I told her pleasantly, "and brings lots and lots of candy that we're then allowed to eat."  I'd have felt bad about doing so, seeing her whirl around to her mother with an accusing look on her face, had her mother not sweetly asked Charlie the previous week, "But don't you want to take karate lessons?"  You're on notice, lady: I fight dirty.  (Just in case, I'm saving the suggestion of hiring a team of performing unicorn ponies to entertain at her birthday party.)

The current plan is to dye eggs with Charlie, and then to leave them in a conspicuous place for the Right Honorable Sylvilagus robustus to hide.  (I'm told that's fun, looking for desirable items that are missing.  Which is odd, because Charlie has on other occasions given me the distinct impression that when it's a 3/4" piece of plastic that you absolutely must have now, the search is no fun at all and must be conducted exclusively by an adult while you moo piteously in the background.)  The good M. Lagomorph will also fill and hide those plastic eggs, I suppose, as that is what seems to be expected of him.  He will also bring a small array of inedible treats — something sure to delight a child, like maybe a value pack of three-way light bulbs or a brand-new roll of freezer tape.  (If I have to make a special trip to the store for dyeable white eggs and plain old vinegar, damn it, I'm getting myself presents, too.)  And we'll go to the local functions and hunt the very hell out of whatever has been hidden.  Beyond that, am I covered?

Until this year I had been unaware of this dramatic shift in the Easter Bunny's job description.  (Children dyeing eggs, the very idea!  What's next, sending them to work in coal mines?  Expecting them to find their own freaking Playmobil widget that you told them and told them not to play with amid the sofa cushions?)  If you celebrate Easter, what did you do as a kid — you know, back when men were men and smoking was mandatory and rabbits could be counted on to do a decent day's work?  What do you do now?  Swift replies appreciated, with extra points to anyone who can convince me that I don't need to go to the store.  The brown eggs and Sauternes vinegar I have on hand will work just fine for dyeing...right?