100: The Easter Egg Hunts

100: The Easter Egg Hunts

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

The Easter Egg Hunts

If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.

~Abigail Van Buren

I grew up with my parents and three siblings, and money was tight. On a day-to-day basis, I didn’t notice that the bread was a day old or that desserts or snacks were few and far between.

Unless the electricity went off (which it often did), I wasn’t aware of our financial status except during the holidays. Friends would be off skiing during Christmas vacation, while my siblings and I would take cardboard boxes from the Dumpster and slide down the local hills. Friends would mention going to the Caribbean during spring break while we spent the week playing with our local cousins. When my friends were wearing store-bought Halloween costumes, my siblings and I made our own by decorating our winter pajamas.

While I knew there were differences between my friends’ celebrations and ours, I always felt ahead of the pack when it came to Easter. We didn’t have the money for fancy clothes, ornate Easter baskets, or trips abroad. Instead, my mother outdid everyone I knew, and she started a tradition that I still maintain today.

She wrote Easter clues that rhymed and put a clue in each egg. She would then hide the eggs, and the next day, the four of us kids would go on the hunt. My mother would grab our poor Beagle, Tica, and dip her front paws in mud to create “Easter Bunny prints” and then she would read the first clue of the hunt. The clues always rhymed and were subtle enough to keep us guessing. For example, this clue led us to the sage bush in the back yard:

Keep that smile on your face

No pushing or shoving during the race

Outside again and look around

A sage clue is looking to be found.

She typically had ten clues, with the last one leading us to our basket, which was often a decorated paper lunch bag that contained an orange, a pair of socks (or some other necessity), and a small selection of jellybeans. She always made sure that she included a black jellybean. She would say that while most people didn’t like that flavor, it was her favorite.

She would have us raise our black jellybeans in the air and she would make a toast, “Let this jellybean remind us that we should open our heads and hearts to different things, and now we should open our mouths to this jellybean.” We would all pop them in our mouths and say, “Amen.”

The other part of our Easter tradition was the money hunt. She would get sixteen plastic eggs and put coins in each of them. She would hide them around the yard while we were supposedly not looking. When the time came, she would remind us that we were each entitled to find four eggs. You would have thought we were searching for gold with all of the laughing, pushing, and intensity as we raced to find our four eggs.

We took our eggs inside, opened each one with gleeful shouts when we saw a quarter and tiny moans when we saw a penny. We each had to do the math to determine who had the most money. She always made sure that we each had at least one dollar in total. Then the weekend after Easter, when all of the Easter items went on sale, she would take us to a dollar store and let us shop for our own gifts.

We had these Easter hunts every year as I was growing up. When I graduated from college, moved away, and had my daughter, my mother came through for me again. My daughter was three and I was working as a freelance writer. I was so busy that I didn’t prepare any clues. The day before Easter, I went to the mailbox and inside was a small box that contained four plastic eggs and clues that my mother wrote based on the location of various things in my house.

Not a year has gone by since that I have not continued the tradition. I still have the clues, the money hunt, and the black jellybean. In addition, the year that my mother passed away, I also added a golden egg to the hunt and told my daughter that my mother was shining her love and light on her. That egg has been the most sought after prize my daughter ever asked for.

~Judith Fitzsimmons

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