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Today's Family Magazine

Mommy Chronicles: Easter traditions change as the kids get older

By Stacy Turner

Like most family holidays and traditions, Easter has begun changing as my kids get older. In the early days, Easter morning would find our little girls up early, excited to find the baskets the Easter Bunny had filled and hidden for them overnight.  As our hunters were small, baskets were hidden in obvious places.  But as our seekers got older, the Easter Bunny made more of an effort to stump them. Just when basket hunting flirted on the edge of not fun anymore, my husband would start dropping hints to guide them to their well-hidden bunny booty.  Sometimes, “you’re getting warmer,” or “Brrr – so cold!” would guide them along.  Sometimes he'd drop hints like, “I heard the dog bark early this morning – maybe the Bunny was by her bed?” 

Once they found their baskets, they’d sort through to discover what was inside.  Usually art supplies, small toys, and a toothbrush to combat all the sugary candy.  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were prized, as were solid chocolate bunnies. Jellybeans and Peeps were there, too, for a splash of color.  

Other than gifting the Peeps to their grandma, who likes them slightly stale and chewy, most years the sugary blobs were left uneaten.  One year, we used them to top hot cocoa, but when they melted, it turned a weird, unappetizing color. Another year, they were toasted on a bonfire, and still another year, the vividly colored marshmallows were donated to science. We watched them expand and grow, slowly riding the microwave-merry-go-round like a scene from Willy Wonka.  I won’t tell you how it ended, but I do suggest using a paper plate to contain your fun.  Often, Peeps got tossed in the trash months later, still as brightly colored as Easter morning. Then they, along with craft supplies and toys were eventually phased out, replaced with teen-friendly options like nail polish, make-up, and hair supplies.

Back in the day, Easter weekend included a hunt for eggs.  In the week prior, I’d fill large bags with colorful plastic eggs containing candy, coins and trinkets.  After my husband hid them throughout the yard, the girls and their cousins, friends, or neighbors were released outside to hunt and gather.  Once the supply was exhausted, the kids would open their eggs and sort their treasures.  These days the girls have outgrown the egg hunt, too, making me nostalgic for the way things were. But maybe I need to look at it from a new perspective.

Before I had kids, I remember a coworker named Veronica talking excitedly about the annual egg hunt her mom had planned for that weekend.  It sounded like a big deal, and I mistakenly assumed that her grandmother had planned it for Veronica’s young kids and their cousins. She laughed and said, “We spoil our kids enough.  Mom still does this for me and my adult siblings.”  In fact, as she explained it, the hunt was more like a contact sport in her competitive family, and something she and all her adult siblings looked forward to each year. 

Trash talk was the norm as they were sequestered, waiting for eggs to be hidden.  Then the lot burst forth into the front yard in a loud, exuberant gaggle, elbowing each other out of the way to grab as many eggs as possible.  She recalled, with a chuckle, the time she jumped on her brother’s back to steal eggs from his basket.  And while the eggs contained candy, lottery tickets, and cash, it wasn’t really about the goodies.  It was all about giving a bunch of siblings the chance to become kids again.  And of course, bragging rights until next year’s hunt. “Neighbors must think we’re crazy,” she added, laughing, “but we look forward to it all year.” 

I’ve since lost touch with Veronica, but it makes me smile thinking that those spirited egg hunts have continued through the years.  And her story gives me hope that with time and intention, my family and I will confidently cast off the things, like Peeps, that no longer fit, and create fun new traditions we can all look forward to.