Tailing the headlines (What a Character entry)
Because sometimes, headlines matter more than the good family name or strong personal values or anything else.
Because even the best of us occasionally fall prey to our baser emotions.
And because the holiday season brings out the best in most ... which means it has to bring out the worst in others, for the balance to be maintained.
Having succumbed to his most craven emotions and having obtained his headlines, the Easter Bunny surrendered in court. "I did it," he confessed, holding out his paws to be 'cuffed. The policeman hesitated, then put the 'cuffs on and led the Bunny to his cell.
Had he not surrendered, the Easter Bunny might never have been found out. He had been careful to cover his tracks. He was an expert at hiding, at covering tracks ... an expert at moving so stealthily that not even the keenest guards at Santa's workshop had detected his presence. In any case - who would suspect the Easter Bunny of such a crime?
He had a hearty chuckle at the headlines on Dec. 26, and then, as stated, went to the court to give himself up.:
Christmas Gifts Delivered Late
Millions of children affected
The trial was brief, since he pleaded 'Guilty' and didn't hire a lawyer. "There's nothing to defend, I did it," he stated. He was sentenced to community service -- nobody could imagine the Easter Bunny in jail -- and the reporters surrounded him and the headlines continued.
Easter Bunny cites troubled childhood
Having been in the spotlight recently for all the wrong reasons, the Easter Bunny has told reporters that it was his childhood that was to blame.
"We were so many children, my parents had no time for us. I never got any attention," he said. "My parents gave my brothers and sisters more attention than they gave me. Now, when I see Santa get all the attention, him and his reindeer, I feel jealous. I want headlines, too. I want as many children to know my name as those who know Santa's."
Had the Easter Bunny achieved his goal? Children the world over followed the news in an attempt to understand why their gifts were delayed.
"The Easter Bunny hacked Santa's computer? He made all the 'nice' and 'naughty' names get mixed up?"
"The Easter Bunny hid Santa's big black book, giving the addresses of children the world over?"
"The Easter Bunny changed the smiling toys to crying ones?"
Amazed kids, and their parents, asked each other these questions in living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens across the globe. They watched closely as the TV channels interviewed the Bunny. Mostly, he looked subdued and shamefaced, but that could have been an act, since, a couple of times, a naughty gleam flashed in his eyes and his lips curved to an almost-smile. Indeed, he was once seen to have flashed a 'V' for victory sign and move his lips to say 'I'm on TV, so there, Santa!'
Of all the folk at the North Pole, Mrs. Claus was the most troubled. She was tired from all the extra work she'd pitched in with. She was drained from the emotions she had experienced as each bit of mischief had been discovered and dealt with. But more than anything, it hurt her deeply that someone's jealousy had led to all this mayhem.
"Let's invite the Easter Bunny here for New Year's Eve," she blurted, suddenly.
Santa Claus, being the wise man he was, didn't spill his cocoa all over himself as a reaction to this statement. He merely sipped a couple of times, smacked his lips, and said, "Yes, dear, if you wish it."
The news of the invitation to the Easter Bunny was met with outrage by the elves and the reindeer. All of them had had a really hard time of it, and it was more than they could bear to think of - the Clauses rewarding the culprit. But they were willing to do anything for Mrs. Claus, and she asked so nicely that Rudolph even went and fetched the Easter Bunny, on Dec. 30.
The Easter Bunny didn't know quite what to make of it, but Mrs. Claus's letter was so evocative, he had to accept her invite. When Rudolph appeared to fetch him, he was so touched, the tears came to his eyes. Mrs. Claus had begged Rudolph to be nice during the journey, and he was, so he and the Bunny were friends by the time they reached the North Pole.
There, grand feasts were prepared and the songs, dances and plays performed by the elves were unparalleled. The Easter Bunny joined in everything - and loved being the center of attention.
"I never did get any attention on New Year's Eve, back at home," he whispered to Mrs. Claus.
"I know, dear," she replied, patting him on the cheek. "That's why I invited you. I wanted to show you. It was obvious that you needed some attention."
"But you are so kind to me when I have troubled you so much ..."
"Well, do you want to trouble us any more?" Mrs. Claus asked.
"Certainly not," the Easter Bunny replied. "I want to make up to you for all my silliness. I'll come and help make and deliver toys, next Christmas. We'll get our headlines to say the gifts were delivered exactly on time!"
Mrs. Claus winked. "So inviting you to the party did what no punishment could have."
Because finally, understanding and empathy go much farther than rules and regulations.
Because one heart won outweighs all the headlines everywhere.
Because ultimately, during the holiday season and always, it's love that wins.