When I was growing up, my favorite holiday tradition was decorating Easter eggs with my family. We covered the dining room table with newspaper, and then set out all the materials: cups of white vinegar, paintbrushes, watercolor kits, and Sharpie markers. I’ve got an older brother and sister who are both artists, and they’d spend an hour on one egg enacting the entire creative process right there before my eyes: they began with a concept, then sketched it on the egg in pencil, then painted layer upon layer of watercolor, and then added the final permanent details in Sharpie. My father too, had artistic skill that often manifested in macabre final products, like a skull or an alligator’s head. My own eggs were just regular Easter eggs, maybe dyed a couple of colors or painted only half-successfully to look a little like a cat. I was less than happy with my own work, but joyful to be part of the process.
Every year, I hope to recreate this experience for my son, to cover our own messy kitchen table with newspaper, and lay out all the materials. Every year I come up short.
This year, I bought white eggs on Friday, and on Saturday, while the baby slept, I enlisted Smoke to add vinegar and food coloring to water. We dyed our eggs in batches of four: four green ones that came out pale, four red ones that came out hot pink, and four yellow ones that turned out disappointingly brownish, like we might have simply bought brown eggs at the store. Smoke was excited to paint ninja faces on them, but the day got away from us and this morning, before he woke up, I hid them all as-is throughout the living room.
Since this weekend included two other Easter events, I had decided to minimize the candy. Hidden along with the hard-boiled eggs were two Cadbury caramel eggs, but that was it. No jelly beans, no Skittles, no Kit-Kats. Smoke should have been disappointed, but he wasn’t.
The highlight of his Easter? Under a pile of bills on the kitchen table, Smoke discovered a stray piece of Trident gum. “The Easter Bunny hid some gum for me!” he cried out, delighted. And then he proceeded to line everything in a neat row. In the end, I guess, Smoke provides his own creativity. If he misses his chance to draw faces on eggs, he’ll make art out of the hunt itself.
Besides, those eggs are still in our fridge. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get around to drawing ninjas on them. Maybe.