Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter...Spring...well, Close Enough

We host an Easter Egg Hunt every year for some of our girls' friends. In their early years I took Bug and Bear to some community egg hunts. They sucked. For one thing, Easter in Maine is a dicey proposition. There is often still snow on the ground, and if the snow is melted, it's a muddy mess. Therefore, egg hunts are usually held on parking lots.

There were never enough eggs for the number of kids that show up. My girls would net maybe six eggs, one of which had been stepped on. They frequently got knocked down to the pavement by the crush of kids stampeding for eggs. But the year that really did it for me was the year that Parks and Rec enlisted the help of the senior center to fill the plastic eggs for the egg hunt. Nice, right?

When the girls opened their eggs that year, we discovered that the candy inside were three bare jellybeans per egg, wrapped in a hand-twisted piece of foil. Gross. Even more so because that year's egg hunt had been held in a misty rain, and the jellybeans in the foil were wet and melty. I vowed that the next year we would hold our own egg hunt and we would do it RIGHT.

This year was our sixth annual Spring Egg Hunt. I don't bother with trying to hold it in time for Easter. I wait for the weather, and the kids don't seem to give a hoot.

My mother and I filled 1250 eggs with candy. Papa was on hand this year to assist Daddy Shortbread in distributing them around our three acre yard. It has to be done early, but not too early, the morning of the hunt. An hour before the hunt is about right. We've learned through sad experience that curious squirrels will bite right through the shiny plastic eggs to check out what's inside if the eggs are out for too long.

We even hang them from the trees.
In case you were wondering, it takes forty kids about four minutes to hoover up 1250 eggs. It's impressive. They've learned over the years not to bring any of those twee little Easter baskets to our egg hunts. Most of them show up with tote bags and sturdy footwear. They mean business. After the eggs are picked up, the kids cluster around the Egg Return Box in the driveway, feverishly opening plastic eggs with the nimble fingers of 19th century child factory workers. Why? Well, some of the eggs contain candy, but others hold highly valued paper slips of Bunny Money. Once the kids have their Bunny Money in hand, they head into the garage to....
THE BUNNY STORE! This is the highlight of the egg hunt. As the self-declared Queen of the Target Dollar Aisle & Oriental Trading Company, I spend the year snatching up bargains on all types of toys, school supplies, and craft items. Each item on the table costs $1, $2, or $3 of Bunny Money. The kids usually scores $20 - $30 in their eggs, and the National Bank of Daddy Shortbread is wandering around with a pocket full of Bunny Money to provide "stimulus packages" to any kid that got shafted on Bunny Money. We run a Socialist egg hunt.
Nana, several of the moms, and I work behind the table filling the kids' orders. When they've spent $5 Bunny Money, the kids head to the back of the line. This ensures that the first kids in line don't buy up all the good stuff. I guess that also makes it a Communist egg hunt. Whatever.
I thought these pencils were supercute.
But year after year, the hottest item in the Bunny Store is these ridiculous, cheap-as-dirt chenille chicks the size of my thumbnail. Don't ask me why, but the kids love 'em. My kids have whole families of little chicks. Bug and Bear spend hours crafting houses for them out of shoeboxes. One of Bug's chicks even has a flat-screen TV made out of popsicle sticks and foil. She glued a picture of a drumstick to the screen. I vascillate between thinking that's adorable and being concerned.
Once every kid has spent their bunny money, it's time to eat. With moms and dads helping to ferry the food out from the kitchen, while I sweep the toys and prizes into plastic tubs for next year, the Bunny Store is transformed into a brunch buffet. Each family brings a brunch dish to the hunt, and the amount of food is truly staggering. The frenetic pace of the morning slows down, and the adults get a chance to eat, sip coffee, and chat.
The kids gather at the picnic tables and eat while comparing loot. They don't rest for long, though, and are up and running around again within minutes. A few will scour the yard for missed eggs, while others get up a whiffleball game in the front yard, or head to the swingset. And every single year, at least one child (usually a boy) manages to "fall" in the creek, announcing it in a cheerful enough way to lead to suspicion that it was not entirely an accident.
Good times. Great times.


Jen on the Edge said...

You are the greatest mom ever!

Plus, I laughed so hard over this post that my nose is running.

smalltownmom said...

Oh, wow. That was the best egg hunt EVER!

Lora and Mike said...

That is so neat! Those are some lucky kids!

Anonymous said...

You've got yourselves a great plan for the redemption of bunny money...

oh... and I too want a chenille chick!

parnola said...

May I suggest you instill stronger capitalistic values in these children? I fear they will grow up looking for handouts when they feel slighted by what they earn. By "sharing the wealth" you are taking away from the more entrepreneurial children that know how to work the system to maximize their take of Bunny Money.

One child doesn't get much Bunny Money? Welcome to the real world, kid. Maybe she'll learn to save it, invest it, and have more Bunny Money the next year. Or, if she's really smart, she'll take a sample home, counterfeit it, and return with $1,000,000 to redeem at next year's egg hunt. That's what I'd do ...

jenn said...

Nice, Pat. Why don't you set up a White Collar Crime Summer Camp and train them yourself?

I knew Mom & Dad made a mistake when they let you watch "Mr. 880" as a kid.

Dawn in Austin said...

What a great story and an even greater idea to have your own easter egg hunt and bunny store! I love it! I will be tucking that away for the day (hopefully in the not too distant future) when I will have grandkids. Sounds like an awesome day.

Elle said...

Happy Easter to all :) Those are wonderful stuff for Easter... Kids really like it!!