The Gift Of Gold Shoes

Among my all-time favorite children’s books is “The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes,” first published in 1939.

Written by DuBose Heyward (best known as author and lyricist of “Porgy and Bess”), this is a fanciful tale of how bunnies who are wise, kind and swift may become one of the five Easter bunnies selected to share eggs and good cheer with children on Easter mornings.

A young cottontail bunny dreams of someday being an Easter bunny. Burdened as a young adult with 21 bunny babies, however, she fears her dreams are dashed (there is scant mention of the bunnies’ absentee father!).

Know-it-all male rabbits deride this busy mother and advise her to abandon hope of ever being an important Easter bunny.  But the insightful Grandfather Rabbit appointed to choose a replacement Easter bunny recognizes in her the precise skills most vital to the job.

After a long and arduous night of delivering Easter eggs, the country bunny is asked to do what is nearly impossible–and she almost doesn’t succeed. Miraculously, Grandfather Rabbit appears at her lowest point and rewards her pain, effort and persistence with a magical pair of gold shoes that enable her to make the last critical delivery.

With Easter just behind us, this story has lingered in my consciousness. Two of my own “little bunnies” have left our “country cottage” to explore the world. Following Palm Sunday, I employed contemporary technology and, in a fit of nostalgia, sent a Snapchat of three children’s Easter book covers–including “The Country Bunny”–to those collegiate children.

“Remember these?” I queried, doubting that the memories of hours spent with their soft wiggly limbs stretched across my lap as we read seasonal stories year after year–until they were reading their own books–were as fresh in their minds as in mine.

My reward was a short flurry of warm responses and happy exclamations before they returned to their classes, work and varied activities.

The lessons included in “The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes” nevertheless continued to swirl, and I contemplated how they might apply to my own, and other, children.

First, when others look at you and determine on the basis of “face value” or their own narrow world views what you are or can be, ignore them.  Believe in yourself, know that whatever road you’re taking will lead you to somewhere better and realize that every unique experience is building a foundation you can use as a springboard when the time is right.

Second, when an opportunity finally comes your way, seize it with confidence. Like the country bunny, you would not have been selected for that job, or that college, or that position, if those in charge didn’t see your potential for the necessary follow-through and fulfillment. Grandfather Rabbit instinctively knew the country bunny had what it took to be an Easter bunny, though she thought she lacked the appropriate resume.

Third, accept help when it’s needed and available. If you’ve made a good faith effort, tried with all your might to succeed and still land, exhausted, at the bottom of a snowy mountain with an injured leg, it’s alright to let someone lend a hand. Resources, advisers and even parents exist for a reason. Had the country bunny refused the gift of the gold shoes and insisted in forging on alone, she may well have failed. But Grandfather Rabbit’s support was offered because of the energy and effort she had already demonstrated, not because he didn’t believe she was capable of completing the task.

Sometimes, a pair of little gold shoes is exactly what you need.