Easter Sunday was always an exciting day, but the week leading up to it was filled with ritual, school for my siblings and coloring or dying eggs on Saturday. My grandmother, Mama usually helped us. Daddy would get into the kitchen to ensure things were progressing smoothly and even Mother would decorate an egg or two. She was more into the actual basket arrangement. The artificial plastic strands of fake grass along with plastic eggs were as much fun for her as it was for us children.
I recall the acrid yet tangy odor of vinegar that filled the air. I would not get to handle the dyes because they were to be mixed with very hot water. Instead I would be allowed to handle the slotted spoon to gently lower the fresh egg into the colored boiling water. Blue, purple, red, green, orange and yellow were the colors we would have for the eggs. After the eggs cooled off, we were able to handle them and we would paint or attach decorations on them.
A few hours of this and we would line up our eggs so Mother could decide how to place them inside our baskets. Most of them would be hidden early the next morning by Daddy, somewhere in the yard or inside if the weather was rainy or too cold. But the special part was waking on Easter morning to find the Easter Bunny had filled the plastic eggs with candies and chocolates. There were even a few chocolate bunnies. Some were milk chocolate and a few were white chocolate. I recall sometimes we had solid chocolate bunnies. I really liked the jelly beans and malted eggs. Some of them had speckles of decoration on them and I liked how they felt against my tongue.
Mary and I would trade jelly bean colors and as she didn’t enjoy milk or dark chocolate, I gave her my white chocolate as another barter. We hunted eggs running madly around the property and other neighborhood children would even join in the antics. We all had hours of fun. After we attended Mass and had our breakfast, it was the one day we were allowed to stuff our mouths with these delicious treats.
On Easter Sunday, my parents were still abed when I peeked in to get them up. To my surprise I saw open bags of candies all over their dresser. Wow, they were the same type we had in our new baskets. It didn’t take me long to put two and two together. I distinctly heard myself shrieking, “Mommy and Daddy are the Easter Bunny!” Mary, who was three and a half years older, had crept up behind me and upon hearing my words allowed enlightenment to cross her face. She wanted to deny it but the proof was there for her to see. Then I just had to go on … “They must be Santa Claus, too!” Mary and I began to cry and our parents consoled us. The Easter Bunny was gone for good.
I will share this with you. I kept making an Easter basket for the big guy until I was fourteen. Then I gave it up. In my heart I still love him … and Santa.