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Friday, April 18, 2014

FIVE FOR FRIDAY! Easter Egg Hunt torture and other memories...

Good morning!

Easter is two days away and I can't help, as I pack the traditional shoe boxes full of goodies from the Naughty Easter Rodent  (oh what, you don't stuff shoe boxes full of goodies from the Naughty Easter Rodent?  Then how do you make sure your children have a year's supply of apple cider and toothpaste?) of my Easters as a child.

No Johnny for you!  It's Easter!
I didn't love Easter much when I was a kid.  Easter Sunday meant a couple things in my world:

5)  I wouldn't get to watch "Emergency" the night before.  

Most Christians know Easter Sunday means SUNRISE SERVICE.  This was especially true at my house.  We'd have to get up at 5 AM.  I've never been a morning person, neither has my brother.  My parents figured they'd put us to bed at 7 PM on Saturday so we wouldn't be so hard to get up at 5 AM.  We all know that didn't work.  But every year I had to miss Johnny Gage.   Taking away "Emergency" was also my mom's favorite, go to punishment for me.  Way to equate punishment with celebration of the Risen Savior, Mom.

4)  Everyone was in a foul mood.
My mother never drank coffee.  And, since it was the seventies, neither did my dad, because my mom wouldn't let him.  Staying up late to hide the eggs and baskets plus getting up early to be at church early plus extra long service because it's EASTER plus having to be nice to more church people during the Easter breakfast plus the basket and Easter egg hunt at our house plus loading into the car to drive from Michigan to Wisconsin to spend the week after Easter with the grandparents equals two parents in ROYALLY FOUL MOODS.  And, throw in two kids who are sleep deprived because no, we didn't go to sleep at 7 Pm and yes, we did stay awake until  my parents finished hiding the Easter Eggs and baskets  (they would yell, "WOULD YOU KIDS GO TO SLEEP?  WE HAVE CHURCH IN THE MORNING!"  My brother was an idiot, he'd yell, "WE AREN'T TIRED!"  That would lead to my mother and father arguing about the drive to Wisconsin.  "They'll just sleep in the car.  Then they'll be up all night when we get there.") and you have four people in WILDLY FOUND MOODS.

3) We always, always, always got in trouble for doing something early.

Again, my mother didn't drink coffee. Maybe she should have.  One of my clearest memories of Easter Sundays always involved getting yelled during a predawn breakfast of cold cereal and milk.  Dad would be showering  (mom and kids bathed the night before) so he was never part of the fracas of breakfast.  Mom would slam breakfast in front of us and snarl something about "eat it quickly, we have to leave."  Inevitable, while sitting at the table, minding our own business...one of us would find an Easter egg.  We'd point it out.  That was enough to set my mother off to some outer limits rage.  ("SO YOU DON'T WANT YOUR EASTER BASKETS?  IS THAT WHAT YOU;RE TELLING?"  Well, no, we're telling you, we see that egg you hide on top of the fridge.)

In my parents' defense, Easter was stressful on them because they were in church choir and Easter is THE DAY for Church Choirs, plus the 8 hour drive to Wisconsin was never fun.  There was always traffic, car trouble, something.  Once we got there it was okay, but getting to my grandparents' house was stressful.  Plus, we had no money, so my folks did the best they could with the whole Easter egg thing.  Our baskets weren't anything special, but I think they took some pride in hiding the eggs, imagining the fun of the Easter Egg hunt after church.  Thing is, they were always, always tired, my parents were.  I get that now, I understand the endless exhaustion that comes with trying to be a good parent.  But really, a cup of coffee might have fixed the situation.  And maybe we wouldn't already be in trouble when we walked into church...it was still dark outside, but not nearly as dark as my mother's expression.  We always managed to break some unwritten rule in church so that by the time we got home, we'd get yelled at or, maybe even a spanking before we did the Easter egg hunt.

2)  Easter Egg hunt torture.

My father is a quiet man.  He's an educated man.  He's a well read man.  He's a calm man.

He's a man with an evil, twisted, demonic sense of humor.

EVIL DEMON EGGS!
Those Easter Egg hunts at my house were sometimes torture dressed up in Sunday best.  Oh we'd have to keep our Sunday outfits on while crawling through the house looking for eggs.  My father would follow us with a checklist.  (In retrospect, this was not a bad idea.)  He'd say, "You have 14 more to find."  The rule was we weren't allowed to "find" the basket until we found all the eggs.  The house was only 900 square feet, and we knew there weren't eggs in the bedrooms.  You'd think two kids would figure it out in ten minutes.  Every year, however, we'd find all but one or two of the eggs in the first half hour. What followed next was an hour of whining, crying, destruction, and yelling.  My father would give no hints about the last eggs.  My mother, at this point, was lying on the couch trying to catch a nap.  My brother and I, sleep deprived and on edge, and wanting to get at the candy in the baskets we'd found immediately, would descend into tears begging him to tell us where the last egg was.  

He'd just grin and say, "You have one more to find."

"If I have to get up from this couch and find that egg"  my mother would shriek from the couch, "NO ONE is getting their basket."

That would set us to wailing even harder.  We'd tear through the house, banging doors, upending laundry baskets.  One year I dumped the flour and sugar cans on the floor.  That did NOT go over well.

1)  The one thing that made it all awesome...Tips and Butts.

Once we'd found all the eggs and had stuffed as many jelly beans and peeps into our mouths as we could, we'd get in the car and head to Wisconsin.  Easter dinner at my grandmother's house was always fun. My dad's side of the family didn't get together very often, so when they did, they shared stories and everyone laughed loudly.  We kids were left to our own devices so it was a blissful week of not getting yelled at because the adults were busy laughing.  

Easter dinner meant the long table in the dining room was full of food and in the middle there would be two huge platters of decorated eggs.  My grandmother LOVES decorated eggs. She loved making them.  But the thing about hard boiled eggs is that they do tend to go bad after a while.  So, what to do with these platters of decorated eggs that won't involve wasting food?

Tips and Butts!

Here's how you play:  Each person at the table gets an egg.  Challenge someone.  Decide if you want to battle the tip end of the egg or the butt end of the egg.  Decide who is going to be the hitter or the hittee  (we say "up or down")  the person who is "up" is the hitter, and he hits the "down" egg.  The egg that cracks is the loser.  The same pair then does the other side of the egg with the "down" person from the previous challenge being the "up" person.  Inevitably there will be one egg that survives battles and is the champion of the day.  You can play until all the eggs are cracked.  My uncle Bob didn't take part in the game.  He peeled the eggs and happily ate his fill topping egg after egg with salt and pepper.  Meanwhile, battles would rage around the table as relatives gleefully yell "I've got a butt!"  indicating the butt end of their egg is still unbroken.

It might seem like a dumb game to play, but we've passed it on to our kids, with a feel twists.  While my grandmother was never this twisted, we have, some years, included an uncooked egg in the tips and butts game.  This makes for a jolly mess and not every home owner loves cleaning raw egg off the floor, so be careful with that one.


What's the point of all this?  We parents try hard to make memories for our kids...not all of them are great, obviously.  But if you can end a holiday so fraught with stress on a high note with something as stupid as cracking eggs, then that holiday will, one day, become the favorite holiday.  I know it doesn't seem possible, but it is.

Easter is, for so many reasons, my very favorite day of the year.


 Whether  you celebrate the secular... or the religious, have a wonderful Easter.

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