The bunny terror tradition

Lorri Drumm

As Easter approaches the traditional scramble for hidden eggs, wearing of bonnets and the opportunity to sit on the lap of an over-sized holiday character will provide memories for years to come.

When I think back to my childhood, I can still picture a grassy area dotted with a few trees where I was put in a crowd of noisy kids who all seemed way more prepared for what was about to happen than I was. I don’t remember if it was a whistle or what kind of noise signaled the sudden charge, but I think I was the last kid to even try to find a little plastic egg.

Even way back then, I didn’t get it. What was in those eggs that were worth the struggle? I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite activity and I don’t think I did it again. It wasn’t traumatizing — not for me anyway. It’s possible my parents weren’t thrilled to have the only kid who didn’t even try to fill their basket, but, if that was the case, they never told me. I’d like to think of it as an early sign that I like to pick my battles. Put a sweet chunk of change in an egg and I’ll trample anyone to get it.

I don’t remember much about a trip to a little village that was a replica of the North Pole but I’ve seen photos. My arms are wrapped tightly around my dad’s neck as Santa apparently tried to interact with the little girl who seemed to be not-so-fond of some holiday traditions. Again, I don’t think it caused any long-term effects. Maybe it was another early sign that I don’t always care to talk to white-haired men in fuzzy red suits.

And when it comes to those costumed characters, I’m not alone in my distaste. I am among the parents with photos of children who weren’t thrilled to interact with them. Like my parents, I am guilty of quickly capturing the moment for future teasing purposes. It’s tradition, right?

Photo contributed to the Times Observer Drumm’s daughter, Dana, sits on the lap of what appears to be more of a “Wascally Wabbit” than an Easter Bunny. Costumes have evolved but often kids continue to have a look of uncertainty as they pose for family photos that could be published in a newspaper someday.

Well, it didn’t take much internet browsing to discover that it’s a tradition that some of today’s parents are opting out of.

Yes, taking photos of crying children on the lap of Santa and/or the Easter Bunny may now be frowned upon or simply not permitted even if you’ve waited in line for hours. While I’m certainly not suggesting hysterical children be forced to do anything, and I absolutely will not tell anyone how to raise their children AND I’m pretty sure this could be welcomed by the people who portray the holiday characters — I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Here’s a small excerpt from an article I read in The Washington Post: “But some have begun questioning the way the culture approaches photos with Santa amid the #MeToo movement and a national conversation over how to teach young children about consent and physical boundaries.

If parents force their children to sit on Santa’s lap for a photo, some have asked, what kind of message does that send them later on in life?”

It would be my hope that parents and guardians would simply use common sense. I don’t think Santa or the Easter Bunny should ever be expected to hold onto a child while they’re crying hysterically, but a frown or a few tears and a quick picture doesn’t seem like lifelong trauma to me.

Do we need to work Santa and the Easter Bunny into conversations about consent and physical boundaries? That choice should be up to each family. Values, beliefs, traditions — those are part of a parents and family’s job to pass on.

But if a movement progressed to a point where children no longer had the opportunity to sit on a character’s lap in a public setting, and maybe even shed a few tears — #MeDisagree.

Lorri Drumm was transplanted to both Warren and its newspaper in 2018. Since then, every day has started with visions of Conewango Creek and ended with a little bit more knowledge of the local area. A former reporter from Crawford County, Drumm’s resume includes a 10-week internship at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and an almost fellowship at Marquette University.