We've done it before and it leaves the kids mystified. When we travel during Easter, we get the Cadbury eggs, the Peeps, the chocolate bunnies and the other goodies ahead of time. Then, we fix up the baskets and hand them over to the hotel's front desk. The rules are simple: leave the baskets outside our door at eight am, knock loudly and then quickly disappear. It's very much like ding dong ditch, except in this version we end up with a couple of surprises waiting on our doorstep.
Sebastian and Maxie love Easter. For them, there is no no religious connotation. No Crucifixion. No Resurrection. No blood of the lamb. It's simply, baskets, egg hunts and sweets. This year their baskets were sent by my step mother, Deanna. They were plush and in the shapes of a pink bunny and a white ducky. They came the week before in the mail and I wasn't sure how to explain them to the kids, because up to now the Easter Bunny had supplied the baskets. But Sebastian informed us that we could leave Danana's empty baskets out the night before and he was sure the Easter Bunny would fill them. Mini crisis avoided.
I shouldn't have worried. It seems that our Easter traditions are always being altered. Last year, was the first time we went to my aunt's house in the desert for an Easter egg hunt. The hunt, however, was on Saturday and not the traditional Sunday, and it was quite obvious the older cousins were hiding the eggs. But these discrepancies didn't seem to worry my children, they just wanted their candy.
Eight o'clock rolled around and there was no knock at the door. Sebastian had already been up and was excited about the impending baskets. Finally, we peeked into the hall and he was noticeably bummed when we didn't see them. Teaching a child patience drains me of all of mine. He lay back down, I'm sure thinking about the bounty to come. Eight-ten. Still no baskets. Eight-fifteen, I took another peek. Eight-eighteen, Michael asked me what time it was. I got dressed saying something like, "I better go make sure the Easter Bunny didn't get lost," and went to the lobby to check on the basket progress.
The Parker Meridien in Palm Springs is a beautiful hotel with spectacularly manicured gardens. To get to the front desk, I had to wend my way across the croquet lawn, through the trees with the hammocks, around a few fountains, by the lemonade cart and fire pit, and bypass the fancy schmancy restaurant where, honest to God, you can enjoy a lobster frittata with sevruga caviar for one thousand dollars. (If you get it with beluga it's a mere hundred. Our server told us they've never sold the sevruga, but will serve up to ten belugas a day.)
A beautiful young woman with an Anne Hathaway smile greeted me at the front desk. I asked about the baskets. She smiled even wider (if that could be possible) and said that she made sure they were delivered to room 54. "We're in room 51," I corrected. I've never seen a smile crumble so fast. Her demeanor changed drastically. She stuttered a bit and then got onto her headset, looking like someone playing a CIA operative. Where are those baskets? Abort mission. Repeat, abort.
A silver haired gent wearing a hot pink sports jacket, which matched the bougainvillea that grows plentifully on the property, was at my side in no time. He was told of the mix up and once again there was some dithering not at the Parker! Then he jumped into action,"Follow me!" I did as I was told, but to be honest, his SWAT-like demeanor was diminished by the fuchsia colored sports jacket.
I followed him to our hallway. First he knocked timidly on Room 54's door. And then to my satisfaction he got out the master key and barged on in. But no one was there. He got on his headset to get a profile of Room 54's occupants. Someone on the other end (I imagined Anne Hathaway's lookalike) informed him the guests in Room 54 were an elderly couple, more than likely not interested in plush baskets filled with kiddie DVDs, plastic watches, and according to my husband the cutest socks you ever saw.
Silver Fox seemed more than determined and assured me he was going to search the grounds. (For the baskets? For the elderly couple? For a sports jacket not so offensive to the eye?) He seemed to think if the elderly couple did take the baskets, they must have thought it was part of the hotel's mystique. (His word.) I was relieved Silver Fox was on the case. He seemed dedicated to getting to the bottom of this mystère. (My word.)
As I was going back to the room, I was struck by the fact that the only way out of this minor catastrophe was to blatantly lie, which I hate. No matter how nonchalant I try to act while spinning a fib, I end up tripping over my tongue, which makes me feel like crap. But when I opened the door to Room 51, Sebastian gave me the explanation: "I think the Easter Bunny is caught in traffic."
I was unaware the Easter Bunny drove, but I didn't flinch. "Is that what you think?" No lie. No awkward moment. But then I'm asked, "Where are Danana's Easter baskets?" All I could think to say was, "Let's go swimming."
Distraction I can do. Lying, not so much.
As the hours ticked by I knew our chances seeing those Easter baskets again were getting slimmer and slimmer. (Something I learned from watching crime shows on CBS.) And by the time I checked out at two-thirty, I knew they were gone for good.
The folks at the Parker felt horrible. They ended up taking off about one hundred fifty dollars worth of services, including Easter breakfast, off our bill. Had I known that, you better believe I would have ordered one of those lobster frittata smeared with sevruga.
And for those of you worried about my children, no need. A close friend went to the store, bought new baskets and filled them with fake grass, stickers, books and chocolate. They were waiting for us when we arrived home from the desert later that afternoon.
As chocolate smeared their mouths and fingers, any questions of the missing baskets or the Easter Bunny's bad traffic karma melted away completely.