Easter in the Park
Easter in the park was a town custom. It was one that brought the community together. The townspeople spent the most part of a week preparing for it. Parents spent hours making baskets for each of their children, and each basket was made unique and carried with it the name of the child to whom it belonged. When the baskets were finished and filled with sweet treasures, they were then set out on the porches of the many homes for the Easter bunny to gather and hide. On Easter morning, after giving the Easter bunny sufficient time to hide the baskets, the families would then bring food and games to the park where the adults would eat and talk and the children would search for their baskets and play games.
Well adults will be adults and mind to their own affairs, believing all of the time that the children are all playing together and enjoying themselves. And as well, children will be children, making the mistakes that children do in unintentionally being cruel to one another.
So arose the case of Andy Miller, a young boy quite unlike the other children, yet expected to act the same and enjoy the same activities. It would seem only reasonable to assume that every child enjoys searching for Easter baskets. However, this was exactly Andy's problem, for though he loved the beautiful basket that his father had made for him and longed to have and hold it, Andy didn't much like to search.
When the treasure hunt started and all of the other children ran off to find their baskets, Andy went to a picnic table and ate potato chips. He wished that he could hold his basket in his hands, but he really didn't want to look for it.
His mother walked up beside him. "Andy," she said, "Why don't you go look for your basket? Go out and have some fun with the other children."
Andy went off moping and kicking rocks. His mother pushed him along. "Get along now, have some fun."
He quickened for a moment, then slowed down again. "This isn't fun," He thought to himself, but he acted like he was searching because his mother had told him to.
"I found mine," one child yelled, followed by the joyous cries of other children who had also discovered their baskets. Soon many had found their baskets. They then gathered together and talked of their adventures, successes and difficulties in searching.
Andy watched the children. He watched several children breaking rules. Some were stealing candy from other baskets and others were taking whole baskets that weren't their own simply because of impatience and desire to be with the group of children who had found their baskets.
A group of his friends then came over to him. "Have you found your basket yet?" Jim asked.
"Nope," Andy said quickly.
"Well you better look harder than you're lookin'," another boy said. "I had to really look hard for mine. It was underneath one of the benches, all the way to the corner."
"I'm glad you found it," Andy said, and he really was glad that Brad had found his basket, but that didn't help Andy to find his own.
Brad kept talking about his search and how he had finally discovered his basket, but his talking only made Andy feel worse. He hoped his own basket wouldn't be so hard to find. He really didn't want to search that hard.
Jim noticed that Andy wasn't very excited to look for his basket. "What's wrong with you?" He asked, "huntin' for Easter baskets is fun."
Andy didn't say anything out loud. He only whispered to himself. "This basket search is no fun at all. It's hard work."
His friends then tried to motivate him somehow. They pressured him, telling him that if he didn't hurry he'd be last to find his basket or maybe he wouldn't find it at all. They talked about their candy and how good it tasted.
"You'll get some too," they said, "when you find your basket."
Andy hoped and searched a little harder, but he really wished that he didn't have to search in the first place. He wished that his father would have just given him the basket.
Soon other children joined the crowd following Andy. They all had advice to give.
"You ought to come look over here," one child would say.
"Go over there," said another.
"I found one over by the swings," someone said.
"And I saw one over by the merry-go-round," came another suggestion.
Andy looked where they told him. Some of the baskets had already been found. The other baskets were not his. "How would they know what my basket looks like?" He asked himself. He knew that none of them knew. They were just giving him false hope. Although he felt frustrated because he couldn't find his basket, the crowd embarrassed him and he wished they would all leave. He felt pressured, discouraged and depressed. They couldn't help him; no matter how they tried. They were only hurting him, but they didn't know that. They didn't know how he hoped, how he tried to believe that he would soon find his basket. They couldn't understand anymore. They had already searched and already found. They didn't need to hope or believe. They had their baskets.
Finally Andy sat upon a park bench and cried. Then the other children felt sorry, so left him and went away to play games.
When he had finished crying, Andy took a walk. He had almost given up on finding his Easter basket but then, looking up above him, he saw it hanging from a branch in a tree. He was overjoyed. He wanted to leap and shout. But it was a personal kind of joy; a joy felt out of thankfulness and appreciation for finally being able to have that beautiful basket that his father had created for him.
When he brought the basket down, he found that some of the candy had melted, and maybe some of the other children had taken from it, but he didn't care. The basket was what he wanted. It was a gift of love from his father and that's what mattered most.
When he returned to the picnic and games, the excitement of finding Easter baskets was already gone. He received no cheers from the children: no congratulations, interest or glory. But he had never wanted any of that to begin with. He was happy in simply having and holding his basket.
So then children, let us all consider the gifts we've been given whether they come through ease or difficulty. And let us not forget what we have, for although this Andy found his basket of joy, some Andy's may never find their baskets.
Also available as an E-book on Amazon
Easter in the Park is a story excerpt from Wisdom's Way: Tales, Treasures, Truths
Copyright 2010 Steven A. Barben
Steven A. Barben shares stories from his book - Wisdom's Way: Tales, Treasures, Truths in "Wisdom in Story;" provides stone information and tales that typify emotions, moods, and personality or character symbols of various stones in "Wonder in Stone;" and clears confusion, raises awareness, and opens stone, gem and jewelry understanding in "Stone Truth."
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