Last year one of our eggs went missing. But it wasn’t just an egg — it was the Powerball of our hunt, the one with dollar bills hidden inside. Long after the kids had lost interest, I was overturning rocks and shimmying under the swingset in search of that egg. A voice in my head — the voice of the Easter Bunny — kept asking if I was holding on to the idea of a perfect hunt a little too tight.
I admit, I do have strong preference about Easter eggs. Plastic ones are my favorite. Yellow. Pink. Green. Neon blue. The tackier, the better. When the rest of the world has moved on to Cinco De Mayo, I am still trolling the double-clearance aisles for what more conservative egg shoppers passed over. Two years ago I got lucky and ended up with 20 jumbo speckled eggs that look like some bunny ate too many Peeps and then blew chunks on the whole package. I love them like they are Fabergé, but the set only put me back about 75 cents.
If temperatures are cool, I fill them with chocolate, and one special egg gets the dollars. Then they go into a basket on the kitchen table so the Easter Bunny can hide them during the night. Part of the ritual includes a moment when the Easter Bunny pauses at the table and then shakes his head at the sight of all that plastic. He grew up in a family that hid traditional hard-boiled dyed eggs, and multicolored egg salad is as much a part of his Easter as the hunt.
When I first met the Easter Bunny, also known as my significant other, I never thought to ask how he felt about eggs. I have a very distinct memory of sitting in a favorite wine bar in Manhattan with my best friend, full glasses and a blank piece of paper where we jotted down the attributes we hoped to find in our respective Easter Bunnies — easy on the eyes, able to tell an excellent joke, can discuss commitment without hyperventilating. Easter egg preference didn’t make the list.
Had he and I not had children, I may never have discovered this difference of opinion. How blissfully ignorant we would have been in our home filled with glass-blown vases, empty plastic shopping bags left at baby-face level and a freezer that had never once held a chicken nugget. Or for that matter, a Lego.
But now we are in the world of building traditions. At first we tried a deliberate approach. There was a line down the Thanksgiving table with the foods from his childhood on one side and mine on the other. Christmas was fair and balanced, with every last tradition getting mention. But this left us feeling less like revelers and more like radio control tower operators: The morning church service is landing. To be followed by opening presents. And the flyby of Grandma’s house.
Now we try to enjoy puzzling pieces from childhood with some of the flare we have acquired as adults. It’s not always picture perfect, but it reeks of compromise. And if there’s one tradition I absolutely want to pass down to my children, that’s it.
This year I’ve decided to mix some of his favorite hard-boiled eggs into our hunt. If Texas temperatures are so hot that the kids’ baskets smell like gym socks, I will do my best not to smirk.
And undoubtedly the Easter Bunny will have some flare up his sleeve. Just the other day I was complaining about last year’s lost egg, and he disappeared into his closet.
“Is this the one you’re looking for?” he asked. It was — I would have known those glowing Peep-colored spots anywhere. Even though years have passed since he first caught my eye, that rabbit is still pretty good with jokes.