It’s the afternoon of Easter Eve. Have you colored your eggs, yet? I did. Last night. I wasn’t going to, because we won’t be home for Easter. But, I walked past the colorful boxes of dye in the grocery store and found myself sucked into the Easter egg vortex. The husband doesn’t color eggs, mind you. And, we have no children. So, it’s just me. Which may sound sad. But, it really isn’t. Because I like colorin’ Easter eggs.
Easter always brings with it fond memories of my childhood. We weren’t church-goin’ folks, but didn’t lack for family time. First, we always colored eggs. ALWAYS (which probably contributes to my annual inclination). My egg (identified by my name written on it in white crayon, which you can see once the egg has been dyed) was usually pink or purple, Mom’s was orange, my brother’s blue or green, Dad’s blue or green and the dog…well, the dog always got a brown egg that had “Dawg” written on it, made by dipping it in all of the colors available. Good times with Carmel the Cocker Spaniel. I have a purple egg this year. The husband has blue. The cat has…well…brown.
As a child, the eggs were hidden for us to find on Easter morning. Never fake eggs…always the real ones. The challenge was to find the eggs before the dawg did. Otherwise, she would grab the egg from its hiding spot, or just stand over it, bouncing to let you know she had found it. This was the same dog who would race us to our Christmas stockings and start yanking things out ahead of us. Endearing in a pain-in-the-ass, get-outta-my-way, dog, way.
Then there were the Easter baskets. Always three. Two small ones for my brother and I with small gifts and special candy (like Cadbury eggs and chocolate bunnies. Oh, the good old days of those hollow chocolate bunnies. I’m sure they tasted like wax, but we thought they were swell). We never had to hunt for our baskets, they always sat on each side of the family basket. These days I’ve figured out that the family basket was a necessity so that Dad & Mom could have their fair share of Easter delights, too. The family basket was a bit of a masterpiece. I would hazard a guess that it was about twelve inches around and the candy was arranged in a circular pattern, each different candy making rings around the interior basket like rings on a planet. The problem? The outer ring.
The outer ring was Mom’s fault. Actually, I think she was the only one that ate the outer ring. Do you remember circus peanuts? Those orange faux-marshmallow thingies? That’s what this candy was, essentially, but in the shapes of bunnies and chicks and the like…but all in, essentially, the same shape as a circus peanut. But, in yellow, pink and white.
They were not good.
And, yet, oddly enough, they’re still available today. I stumbled across them last weekend whilst perusing the Easter candy. I almost bought a bag and shipped them to Mom. Because there were a lot left. They’re likely the last thing on the shelf the day before Easter. Maybe I’ll find them after Easter for 75% off and buy her a few bags.
There were also robin’s eggs, jelly beans, small, foil wrapped bunnies and bunny money and, when they came into being, Cadbury mini eggs (life sucked before mini eggs). The family Easter basket was a cornucopia of sugary delights. Except for those circus peanut things. Still scarred, Mom. Still scarred. My brother probably is, too.
After the hunt and some sugar-loading we would make our way to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Now, to be honest, I don’t remember a lot about Easter dinner. Because in those days that was not the highlight. It was all about the hunt. All of the cousins brought eggs. Primarily real with some plastic. If I remember correctly, the hunts would start out with a willing relative hiding the eggs for us. But, as time passed and they grew weary of us, we would begin hiding them for each other. Outside if the weather was decent, inside if it was raining. There were never toys or candy or any prizes hid. I don’t know that it ever occurred to me to ask for such a thing. The hunt was simply enough.
Side story: speaking of Cocker Spaniels, my Uncle had the male and female that, for years, produced all of the cockers in the family. The “big daddy” cocker was Jasper. Jasper, like Carmel, was an egg hunter. Unfortunately for us, Jasper was a hunter/collector/eater. Meaning that he would find eggs, gather them up and proceed to eat them. We’d be chasing him and yelling at him and trying to figure out how many he’d eaten so we’d know how many we had accounted for. The only satisfaction was the knowledge that those egg shells might not come out as comfortably as they went in.
Because there were multiple hunts over the span of the day there were always a few casualties along the way. This would include eggs consumed by dog, consumed by children (sometimes we would get hungry during the hunt), dropped multiple times or…lost. There was an egg-eating tree outside along the front walkway at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. It is now a very large tree, but at the time it was small enough that eggs could be nestled in the top of it. I don’t know what kind of tree it is, but it kind of resembled a bushy Christmas tree. So, if you dropped the egg while trying to place it carefully in the top the egg would get sucked down into the prickly interior of the tree…never to be seen again. More concerning were eggs lost during indoor hunts. I remember one time we found a leftover Easter egg in a drawer “the blue bedroom” (called that because…it’s blue)…in the summer.
Ahhhh…Easter memories. Such fond memories, with one overarching question…dear Lord…did we take those eggs home after hunting them all day and eat them? I hope not.