The Easter Bunny stopped showing up at my house around the time my parents got divorced. Come to think about it, Santa stopped showing up around then, too. I suppose it’s no great tragedy. I was in third grade or fourth grade, and I was the youngest child in our family. At some point, it was just time for everyone to move on.
I was a teenage girl living with a single father. My life was full of angst, both real and imagined. Tragically, that was the year I attempted to commit suicide. Since I’m sitting here today writing this column, I can say with great certainty and gratitude that God had other plans for me.
One of my most distinct memories from that year happened just before Easter. I was sitting at the school lunch table with my friend Colleen. I think we were talking about something incredibly important, like our favorite types of candy.
Colleen started asking about my family’s Easter traditions and what I thought I’d get in my basket. When I told her it had been several years since the Easter Bunny had paid me a visit, Colleen’s jaw dropped. “You don’t get an Easter basket?!” Um, no. “Seriously? How can you not get an Easter basket on Easter?”
I went on to explain the difference between her family and mine. While it’s true that she lived with two parents, I think the biggest difference was that she was also the oldest child in her family. She had younger siblings who were still in elementary and preschool. Of course the Easter Bunny would still show up at her house.
Even after my lengthy monologue, Colleen still couldn’t envision a time in her life when there would be an Easter morning without an Easter basket.
Lunch was over and we left the cafeteria and the conversation. I didn’t think anything more of it, until a few days later, when I got called down to the principal’s office.
Sitting on the secretary’s desk was the biggest Easter basket I had ever seen.
It was huge and colorful and filled with deliciousness, and it was for me.
I stood there in shock. Who would do this? I asked the secretary who had delivered it, but she would only say that it was from the Easter Bunny himself.
I can’t tell you how loved and cared for and even protected I felt at that moment. It stands out in my memory as one of the greatest random acts of kindness I have ever witnessed. And it was all for me.
Colleen refused to admit that she had anything to do with the basket.
Looking back, as a mom myself, I can almost see how that story would have unfolded: Colleen coming home from school and sharing our conversation with her mother, the two of them hatching a plan to create this surprise, and then running to the store to buy an extra basket and loads of my favorite candies, finally pulling it all together by delivering the gigantic gift to the school office and begging the secretary not to tell.
One of my sweetest memories happened because another girl listened. Then her mother listened. Then they both cared. That’s how kindness unfolds. That’s how people are lifted up. And that’s how we change the world.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.