Easter-egg hunts at our house when I was a kid were conducted on Easter Sunday afternoon, as the Good Lord intended. Frazzled from early morning Sunrise Service, followed by church brunch, then a massive church service that was rivaled only by Christmas Service, us kids were worn out and wanted to be left alone.
But my mother was just getting warmed up. She had invited all the grandkids (and there was a pack of them) plus their parents (my brothers and sisters) to fried chicken dinner followed by an Easter Egg Hunt. This event would take place on the rolling lawn of our massive farm house, called Maple Hill, west of Monroe.
I’m the youngest of eight children, so I had nephews and nieces nearly as old as I was. There were three of us kids still at home: my brother, Mike; my sister, Angel; and me. Yep, I was the baby of the family and spoiled rotten, just like one of those bad eggs you discover when coloring eggs.
How do you get rid of all the kids so adults can hide Easter Eggs? My mother, the orchestrater and Grand Matriarch, had it all figured out. One set of adults would round up the grandkids and take them to town for ice cream at the Jersey Freeze. She offered to pay for the ice cream but of course the son-in-laws said, “Oh, no, Mom. We got this.”
The other adults stayed back to hide Easter Eggs. I was in-between being a little kid and a big kid, so I got to choose what I wanted to do. I liked the idea of ice cream, but didn’t want to be included with the “little” kids. They can be quite annoying when you’re eleven.
Anywho, the adults left behind got right to work “hiding” 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 mother had us up late for three nights coloring Easter Eggs, which was sort of fun. We had been saving eggs back from our dozen hens for months—so that was where the few bad eggs came from.
I enjoyed coloring Easter Eggs—to a point. We used a wax pencil to make designs on the eggs, then dipped the eggs in dye using a wire hoop. Taking the eggs out we beheld our “artwork.” The rabbits looked more like chickens or cows.
It was here that 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 rabbits galore being born. It’s new life, like Jesus was given new life.”
“What about eggs?” I asked. “Rabbits don’t lay eggs.”
This stopped her for a moment, but not long. “No, but rabbits have a deal with the hens to lay their eggs in nests where the kids can find them. Baby chicks are hatched from eggs. More new life. He has risen.”
My mother’s grand act of the Swarm Easter Egg Hunt was that she had my brother, Mike, who was tall with long arms, climb up the big maple tree by our back porch and place an Easter Egg in a robin’s nest. She then put an extension ladder beside the tree.
With her coaxing, she got her oldest grandson, Peter, to look up in the tree and spy the bird’s nest. He climbed the ladder and found Grandma’s grand prize. He was elated and tells the story to this day.
However, I wasn’t satisfied. “So, the rabbit had a hen fly up in 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 have an Easter egg.”
That is why Easter-Egg Hunts should be held on Easter Sunday.