On Easter morning 45 years ago, the Webner household would be a beehive of activity. When the go signal was given, five kids ranging from 11 to 4 would thunder down the stairs and fan out through the household, looking for their Easter baskets.
My mother had this down to a science. She had scouted all of the good hiding spots, ranked them in order of difficulty, and then assigned them to the kids in order of age. Jean therefore always got the easiest hiding place — usually somewhere pretty much out in plain sight, perhaps partially behind a chair. The bright pinks and greens and yellows and purples of the plastic eggs and marshmallow chicks and cellophane wrapping of the chocolate bunnies were like neon signs against the subdued decorations of our home. We’d hear Jean’s happy cry of discovery, chuckle at the lack of challenge, and redouble our efforts.
Then a second discovery would be made, then a third — and suddenly things started to get a bit more desperate for the remaining searchers.
No one wanted to be the last person to find their basket, searching with increasing shame while Mom gave embarrassing “you’re getting warmer” hints and everyone else was gobbling their goodies. But some of those hiding spots were awfully tough — like inside the dryer, or under the top of the piano, or tucked away behind the coats in the front closet. When you finally found your basket, you felt a warm sense of achievement, and then tore into the goodies, scattering the fake plastic grass from the basket across the floor. The speckled eggs with a hard outer shell and malted milk inside were my favorites.
Then it was time to put on your best Sunday outfit and head off to Sunday school, stoked with an awesome chocolate rush pounding in your ears.
In retrospect, I imagine Sunday school teachers of the day dreaded Easter.