We didn’t hunt for eggs as kids. Our neighborhood annual Easter hunt was a complicated and well-thought out clue hunting “most of the afternoon” type adventure. We had about 20 or so kids on the farm in rural Pennsylvania. We’d be divided into two teams and given our first clue. With acres of woods, fields, streams and fences, there was ample room to hide clues. The clues would be in glass bottles – hanging from tree branches, hidden in stream beds, tied to a single rail on a fence – all written in a jingle, based on “tribal” knowledge of all our escapades (place where Peter fell in hay pile on Halloween). The adults and older kids would plot out the clues, place them and then monitor the trek around the farm on Easter Sunday. So while sitting in church on Easter Sunday, I was thinking of my sneakers and getting ready to think – the clues were not easy. One year, the clues were all written in rhyme – we all hated those. One year, my team won and I received an stuffed Easter Bunny that was as tall as I was – she had elastic bands on her feet to wrap around my shoes. I was so happy about that bunny. We walked around together for weeks until the bands broke.
To carry on the tradition, when my son was little, I would have him hunt for his basket. One year, I cut off food icons and labels of of cans and boxes and pasted them on index cards. He had to find out what they were and where they went in the pantry or bathroom to find the next clue. I mean, he ate Campbell soup, but did he ever look at the label when he was six years old?
Even when he was older and the basket would contain classic rock t-shirts and jeans instead of candy, I challenged him to think in order to find what he wanted. It took lots of planning – and running around, but it was worth it to see his concentration and laughing with all of his friends as they joined the hunt.
As I gather together the baskets for the nieces and nephew this year, it seems like a step backward just to hand them to them. I think I have officially become a “back-in-my-day” kind of old geezer. I’ve earned it.