This past weekend was cold – a reminder that spring can be fickle. The earth is putting on quite a color show everywhere as Easter approaches; I think it is one of the most beautiful springs. Of course I likely say that every year.
When I was a kid, we would do the same things for Easter that my kids at school are doing now. We would cut out paper eggs. We would make Mom a flower out of crepe paper with a green pipe cleaner for the stem. We also made baskets – sometimes weaving paper then folding the weaving to make a basket, or painting a milk carton and making the handle out of pipe cleaners (we used a lot of pipe cleaners back then). I was grown before I found out that they were really for cleaning the kind of pipes you smoke. They are called chenille sticks now.
After we had our baskets, we dyed the eggs using the same vinegar-smelling dye that’s used now. I loved to see my basket filled with all those pastel eggs. I did not want to swap eggs or fight eggs – that’s where you hold an egg and the other guy holds an egg and on the count of three you whack the other one. Then you had to give your egg to the winner, not that anyone wants a whacked egg. I found out the secret of winning somehow – I guess my childhood friend Gwenith told me. You had to hold the egg with the pointy end out and you had to be a fast whacker. If the other guy had his pointy side out, you had to whack at an angle. I got so good I could do a quick whack and have a basket full of eggs.
It’s a wonder we didn’t all get sick from eating those eggs, which we were still consuming days later. I can remember finding an egg in the yard many days later and tasting it to make sure it was OK then eating it. Everyone was impressed with the find. I told my own kids that dyed eggs were “toys” and not for eating. I used store-bought eggs for dying and made egg dishes out of our real chicken eggs, which I knew were safe. I still love to watch kids peel eggs – they get so serious and careful and never get all the shell off.
I really hated egg hunts, too. I always helped dye the eggs with Granny and mine were the most beautiful, or at least I thought so. I didn’t like putting my beautiful eggs in the bucket for Daddy or whoever to hide, because whoever found the egg got to keep the egg. I would just as soon sit in the shade in all my finery and held on to my own eggs, and I didn’t want anyone else’s eggs.
Daddy knew how I felt about my eggs, and one Easter when he hid them, he put my eggs all in a pile next to a papier mache bunny, that was a gift from the Easter Bunny to me. That was the best Easter ever.
I loved to set up the egg coloring station for my kids – especially when they had friends over.
It would keep them occupied for an afternoon. I would get a flat of those white “toy” eggs, and we would go at it. The first ones were just put in the cups straight. After they came out, the art started. Will liked to dye them half and half; Angi liked the wax crayon, which meant the eggs had to be warm or it wouldn’t work.
I’ve always dyed eggs with my kids at school, which is a challenge because they seem to always want to whack at least one egg on the table. The kids love it when I let them crack eggs to bake a cake or cup cakes, so when I hand out eggs, several of them are going to whack it on the table. They’re getting better though – this year we only had about five slightly smashed eggs to turn into egg salad.
We nearly always make our baskets out of gallon milk jugs, after Nina, Tonya and I have discussed how to best cut the ears and where there needs to be cotton balls. We took each child aside and, with our guidance, each one would spread glue and cotton balls (sensory lesson) and soon had a wonderful bunny Easter basket that was easy to carry. Nina found tissue for the “grass,” as I’m not a fan of that shredded plastic everywhere for months.
Finally, loaded down with bunny baskets, bag lunches and Rice Crispy treats that went wrong, we will load the big activity bus and head up to the park below the Canada firehouse for our egg hunt. (I had never made Rice Crispy treats and did not know you had to use real marshmallows. I figured marshmallow cream would cut some steps; instead they made the treats a little soupy.)
We will unload and start the hunt. I usually hide the eggs because I have a special knack for it. I take a big basket full of the pastel, plastic, candy-filled eggs and go out into the field. I close my eyes (or so the kids think) and fling the eggs over my shoulder as I walk around in a circle. I try to provide a bit of a challenge, since these kids have egg-hunting down. They will run around, dive for an egg, crack it open, take out the candy, throw the egg back and feast on the chocolate/marshmallow treat inside. They couldn’t care less about the eggs – candy is the reason for being there. Usually we have to walk around and pick up all the empty plastic eggs and put them in a bag for next year.
After we have the egg hunt we will sit down to the delicious lunch provided by the ladies from the cafeteria and crack real eggs to eat.
Now I’m thinking about what to have for dinner on Sunday. Ham or lamb? Along with deviled eggs, I plan to have Baptist potato salad just like my mom’s. And on my table will be a small basket of pastel colored eggs.