Easter egg hunts at our house, when I was a child, took place on Easter Sunday afternoon, as the good Lord wanted. Exhausted from the early morning sunrise service, followed by brunch in church, and then a massive church service that was rivaled only by the Christmas service, we children were exhausted and wanted to be alone.
But my mother was just starting to warm up. She had invited all the grandchildren (and there was a pack of them) and their parents (my siblings) to a fried chicken dinner followed by an Easter egg hunt. This event would take place on the rolling lawn of our huge farmhouse, called Maple Hill, west of Monroe.
I am the youngest of eight children, so I had nephews and nieces almost as old as me. We were still three children at home: my brother Mike; my sister Angel; and me. Yes, I was the baby of the family and spoiled rotten, just like one of those bad eggs you discover by coloring eggs.
How do you get rid of all the kids so the adults can hide the Easter eggs? My mother, the orchestrator and Great Matriarch, had it all figured out. A group of adults were rounding up the grandkids and taking them to town for ice cream at Jersey Freeze. She offered to pay for the ice cream, but of course the sons-in-law said, “Oh, no, mom. We have this.
The other adults stayed behind to hide the Easter eggs. I was between a little kid and a big kid, so I had to choose what I wanted to do. I liked the idea of ice cream, but I didn’t want to be one of the “little” kids. They can be pretty boring when you’re eleven.
Either way, the adults left behind got to work “hiding” the Easter eggs – most of them out in the open where they were obvious. There was a combination of store bought eggs and hand colored eggs. My mom kept us up late for three nights coloring Easter eggs, which was pretty fun. We had stored the eggs of our dozen hens for months, so that’s where the few rotten eggs came from.
I enjoyed coloring Easter eggs – up to a point. We used a wax crayon to make patterns on the eggs, then dipped the eggs in dye using a wire hoop. As we took out the eggs, we saw our “work of art”. Rabbits looked more like chickens or cows.
That’s when I asked my mom what the Easter bunny and Easter eggs had to do with Jesus dying and going to heaven. An egg balanced in a hoop, she said, “Well, in the spring there are baby bunnies being born galore. It is a new life, as Jesus received a new life.
“And the eggs? ” I asked. “Rabbits don’t lay eggs.
This stopped him for a moment, but not for long. “No, but rabbits have an agreement with hens to lay their eggs in nests where children can find them. Chicks are born from eggs. No more new life. He is resurrected.
My mom’s big act on the Swarm Easter Egg Hunt was that she had my brother, Mike, who was tall with long arms, climb up the big maple tree near our back porch and place an Easter egg in a robin’s nest. She then put an extension ladder next to the tree.
Through his coaxing, she asked her eldest grandson, Peter, to look up the tree and see the bird’s nest. He climbed the ladder and found Grandma’s grand prize. He was thrilled and tells the story to this day.
However, I was not satisfied. “So the rabbit made a hen fly up the tree and lay an egg?”
“Yes,” she said. “The tree is the symbol of the cross. Jesus died for you and me. Be happy and grab an Easter egg.
This is why Easter egg hunts must take place on Easter Sunday.