When I envision the perfect Easter day, I think of one spent in Atlanta with my parents, my husband and daughter. Most Easters during my daughter’s childhood found us in that well-loved and familiar place.
My daughter’s first egg hunt was at my home church in Atlanta. She was not quite three, and her public persona was quiet and timid. I feared that in the wake of louder, bolder children, her basket might well remain bare. She was neither quiet nor shy with family, however. Should the hunt not go well, my husband and I would experience the full force of her fury afterwards. So we coached her. We practiced in my parents’ yard: When you see an egg, pick it up and put it in your basket. Don’t take an egg that someone else is about to pick up, but don’t wait too long, either.
Mama cared little about the Easter egg hunt; she preferred to stay home, cook the ham and devil eggs. But Daddy loved being with his granddaughter for the hunt. He gloried in walking along beside her, cheering her every find. He didn’t have to muster fake enthusiasm, as many grandparents diligently try to do. He simply had it, and it bubbled up and out. When it came to his granddaughter, his cup runneth over. Until it suddenly ran out, and by then, both he and my daughter were grumpy and ready to go home. They’d snip and snipe at one another like siblings. My daughter rather appreciated that aspect of Papa’s personality; he became the brother she would never have.
We needn’t have coached our toddler on egg-hunting strategy. Every church bunny in our experience has been exceptionally generous and not particularly inclined to hide eggs, preferring instead to scatter them abundantly in plain view. Every child left with an overflowing basket. Our daughter and her surrogate brother were pleased. My husband and I were happy and relieved: another milestone community event successfully completed.
On Easter morning, our daughter would find her basket on the dining room table, filled with goodies. There would be a reply from the Bunny to the note our daughter always left him.
After church on Sunday, we typically took the annual photo of our daughter on the steps of the rock garden by the azaleas. These pictures document her growth from baby to teen.
The perfect Easter day that I see in my mind–that’s no longer a possibility.
Things change. This Easter would be different.