I may not have mentioned this particular fact about me before, but my family is amazing and wonderful. I remember this most often on days like today.
Today being Easter.
Ah, Easter. In my childhood, Easter was a fabulous holiday. We dyed eggs the night before and then decorated them.
The dyeing phase was all about bragging rights. How many distinct colors could you dye your egg, given 12 mugs filled with different color dyes? It was also entirely irrelevant, as the dyeing phase was followed by the decoration phase, and the decoration phase was so elaborate as to generally cover up the dye.
We made eggs into sheep by gluing cotton balls all over. Because my family has no sense of propriety, we’ve had Santa Claus eggs (this was quite rude–as everyone in my family knows, the Easter Bunny is jealous of Santa Claus and has been plotting his downfall for years). Eggs became horses, space shuttles, bullets, and guns. They were strung together into multi-segmented dragons.
An egg–carefully dyed a mottled green and brown–could be turned into a tank with some wheels and a gun turret. Black construction paper and a pipecleaner, all painstakingly cut, turned the peach-colored egg of the dying Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader with lightsaber. I remember one time I built an eight-inch high gallows out of cardboard just so I could have an egg hanging from a noose. Do you have any idea how HARD it is to make a noose hold an egg? Eggs have no necks. They’re not really designed for hanging. I was inordinately proud when I got it to stay.
My mother praised me. How she managed to do that with a straight face, I’m still not sure. In retrospect, my subject matter was probably a little grisly, and more than vaguely inappropriate for the holiday, all things considered.
After we decorated everything, my parents hid the eggs in utterly inaccessible spots. Eggs were stashed inside smoke alarms and ceiling fixtures. They were buried deep in fifty-gallon containers of wheat. Disassembly of furniture and electrical components was often required; it was a boring Easter if nobody needed a screwdriver. One year, my Easter basket was hidden in the toilet tank. Another time my mother hoisted my sister’s up on ropes behind the curtains in the living room.
And in case you haven’t noticed, we decorated a great many Easter eggs (close to 50). My parents never made a list of where they hid them. Easter eggs were the gift that kept on giving, sometimes years after the fact.
But there was always another part to Easter, of course. This was the part that wasn’t about the crass commercialism of finding eggs and ransacking Easter baskets. This is the sweet, sentimental part, the part that touches my heart and makes me think of family togetherness. This is the bit where I share really important life lessons, ones that I will carry with me for ever and ever.
You see, once my siblings and I had found our Easter baskets and given up on the last six eggs, we would all get together and…and….
And what did you think I was going to say?
Of course we gambled our Easter candy. We invented truly elaborate gambling games and machines. Naturally, we did our best to hide our perfidy from my parents, who abhorred gambling, violence, and any number of other truly fun activities. But that just meant that there was no arbitrator in times of dispute.
So when I think of Easter, I think of that really heart-warming time I won 72 jellybeans from my sister. That’s when she learned this very important rule: the house is only guaranteed to win if its bank vastly exceeds the coffers of the players.
Happy Easter, everyone!