As I was boiling Easter eggs for our kids, I realized it was official… I’m a grown-up.
At 40-something you would think this revelation would have hit me sooner. But my sisters and I all waited until our thirties and forties to have children and had an extended childhood of sorts.
I’ve been on my own since I was 23, but it wasn’t until I had my own kids that my parents stopped coloring eggs with us, or at least, for us, if we couldn’t come early for the egg coloring. There was also a lovely basket waiting for me each Easter morning.
As I was getting everything ready for our brood this year, it occurred to me that the torch has been passed. Memories of my own childhood are still on my mind, but they’ve been surpassed by the memories of the family I created with my husband.
We’ve developed our own traditions, and they’re different from what I grew up with.
A case in point would be my version of egg coloring, which is certainly not as professional as my father’s. He would faint if he saw the mess I made as I added color to the bowls because the kit I bought was not doing such a good job.
Kits were personae non gratae in my house when I was growing up. We used food coloring.
Actually If my dad had his way, sisters and I would have foraged for vegetables and flowers in Long Island’s suburban wilds, and we would have made the dye from them. Thankfully my mother curbed some of his more Grizzly Adams-like ways.
But she couldn’t stop him from setting up a coloring operation fit for an army of bunnies. Newspaper covered every inch of the table. My engineer dad fashioned egg dippers and holders out of wire. The bowls of dye were lined in a row, and the eggs were carefully laid out so the festivities could begin.
This man has been coloring eggs my whole life, even when there wasn’t a baby or child in sight.
My parents love to celebrate holidays. My mom made the most beautiful Easter baskets for us filled with handmade chocolate bunnies, intricately decorated sugar eggs, and other beautiful confections she bought from specialty candy stores.
No mass-market bunnies for her girls. Her baskets frequently had a theme, such as a garden or spring toys. When I was eight, she did a sewing theme and I got pink thread, a pincushion, and sewing needles tucked in with candy.
I can still remember the excitement my sisters and I felt as we walked downstairs to find the baskets we set out the night before lined in a row and filled with treats. Each basket was wrapped in colored plastic wrap topped with a beautiful bow or ribbon that mom would put in our hair for Easter Dawn service.
We would giggle, eat jelly beans, and compare what the bunny brought us: “I got pink bubbles…” “I got blue…” “My bunny has a purple bow…” “Mine has yellow.”
The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus were all important visitors to our house throughout my childhood.
They were so important that long after we were children, my parents incorporated them into our holidays. Egg hunts and all. This of course was a source of amusement for our husbands.
The other day my 12-year-old, Tom, and I were discussing plans for Easter. It’s been extra fun this year because our six-year-old, Peter, has been so excited over the prospect of a visit from the Easter Bunny.
“Mom, it is so cute that he believes in the Easter Bunny,” said Tom, who was four when he declared that the bunny myth just didn’t make sense.
I let him know that until he was born, my parents still hid eggs for me and his aunts. He thought this was hysterical. The image of his grown mother and her sisters looking for colored eggs was just too much. Then he said, “That’s so cute mom.”
My parents are now in their glory with seven grandchildren ranging in ages from 12 years to five months. My mother’s beautiful baskets are now reserved for her grandchildren, who open them up with the same amazement my sisters and I had.
The egg hunts are much more exciting now with children rushing all over the yard.
I relish the idea that years from now, there will be a new generation talking about their memories of my parents and the holidays they made special.
In my house, I am the one and only official Easter Bunny. It’s different from my childhood, but just as special for our three children.
The chain continues.
Author’s note: One of the joys of writing this blog for 6 years is getting to revisit pieces that I wrote when my kids were younger. This piece was originally published on the Dishwasher April 24, 2011 when my kids were 12, 9 and 6. It has been revised. The time has gone by so fast, this Easter I have an 18-, 15-, and 12-year-old. But rest assured we will still be coloring eggs, and my kids will wake up to Easter baskets.