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  • Writer's picturejamesbriankerr

Easter Egg Hunts, Past and Present

My younger sister and cousin at Gram's egg hunt

It’s Easter morning and Rachael and I are stuffing plastic eggs with candy and coins for the traditional egg hunt for her kids.

We are filling more than fifty of the eggs, which will be hidden in every nook and corner of the downstairs rooms. When all the eggs are hidden, she will give the signal and her daughter and son will run around the room filling their bags with eggs. Afterward, they will sit on the floor and count the eggs to see who got the most.

Rachael has been doing this Easter morning egg hunt for close to twenty years. It was something her own parents did when she was a child, and when she became a parent, she carried it on. Being that her kids are now 20 and 17, she’s not sure how much longer they will want to do it. But for now, they are eager to continue the tradition, and who can blame them? Alas, the holiday traditions that we enjoy in our youth pass away all too quickly. Best enjoy them for as long as we can.

As I help her stuff the eggs, I think back to my own family’s Easter morning traditions when I was growing up with my siblings on our little farm in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. After church, we would come home to a big breakfast of scrambled eggs and ham slices. Then we six kids would go in search of the Easter baskets that our parents had hidden around the house.

Those baskets could be anywhere. (My younger sister remembers finding hers one year in the dryer.) Our father was particularly devilish about where he hid the baskets and sometimes our searches could take a while and would require him to give us hints. “You’re getting warm…. No, you’re cold again.”

But eventually, all baskets would be found and we’d sit at the kitchen table going through the goodies. Later in the afternoon, we’d load into the station wagon and off to Grandmother’s house we’d go for a second Easter egg hunt with our cousins.

These were massive affairs—think twenty-five kids with paper bags storming out the door in search of dyed eggs and bags of candy that had been hidden around the yard by our uncles. To make things fair for the younger cousins, we did those hunts in shifts: bigger kids first, then a second wave of younger cousins. Invariably, though, a few of us would get the short end of the stick and end up pouting. For them, our grandmother and aunts would have candy waiting in reserve to fill their bags. All went home happy.

Me on a sugar high after a bit too much candy

When I had kids of my own, the traditions continued. After church, we’d make our three boys wait upstairs while their Easter bunny parents hid their baskets around the house. On a signal, they’d come charging down the steps and go from room to room searching for their baskets while we gave them hints. “Getting warmer … getting warmer … boiling hot!”

Amidst the colored straw, their baskets--like my own growing up--always contained a toy and enough chocolate and jellybeans to send a kid into a sugar-induced high. In the coming days, I’d share in the bounty by stealing goodies from their baskets when they weren’t looking. My favorite were the solid chocolate eggs, the size of a small football, which would take a week or so to whittle down.

Good times.  

My sons are all adults now and off on their own, but I have no doubt that when they have families of their own (fingers crossed), they will recreate, in some form or the other, the Easter egg hunts and other holiday traditions that they experienced when they were growing up. The same is true with Rachael’s kids.

There’s nothing new under the sun. Everything borrows from what has come before. We take those traditions and pass them on like borrowed clothes our children, who pass them onto their children, and on and on it goes.

It’s a wonderful thing, really. Traditions are living vestiges of the people and loved ones who have come before.

The thought gives me a certain comfort this morning as I think of my 91-year-old mother who will be spending this Easter in the senior center where she lives. This woman who so masterfully orchestrated our Easter morning traditions a half-century ago—bought the candy and the toys, boiled and dyed the eggs, made up the baskets and helped Dad hide them, all while organizing breakfast for eight people—this master organizer/planner/cook is now too frail to leave the center and take part in family gatherings.

After we finish with the egg hunt here, I will go visit her at the center. I will sit with her for a while and reminisce about Easters past, and perhaps she will remember and perhaps she won’t. Either way, the traditions she passed onto us live on, a legacy of love and family.

For those of you who celebrate it, happy Easter everyone. May your day be filled with blessings, both present and past.

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