Here lies Dad In The Box. He was a good egg.
I probably should have greater aspirations in life, but I suppose there are far worse ways to be remembered.
Being a good egg an old fashioned, aw-shucks kind of way of saying someone is a kind-hearted person. Maybe even honorable or generous. At the very least, still within a likeable sell-by date.
So far so good I guess, because I have never been called a bad
egg. Although when I was a kid on several occasions I earned the distinction of being a rotten
egg. But that was only when I was slow of foot and the last one there. Wherever there happened to be.
But at this time of year eggs take on much more significance than whether they are rotten, scrambled, fried, runny, or over easy. At this time of year a good egg is one that is brightly colored. An even better egg is one made of solid milk chocolate and placed in an unusual hiding place by a rabbit.
Given that Easter is a sacred Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, it begs the question: which came first, Jesus or the colored egg? Some say the treasured egg tradition stems from ancient pagan fertility rituals dating long before the birth of Christ. Some say the Germans imported the legend of a hare bearing baskets of colored eggs to the US in the 1700s.
As much as I adore pagan rituals that involve fertility rites, I am going with the German version of the Easter bunny, which they called Oschter Haws. Behind beer and the VW bug, the Easter bunny is probably Germany’s greatest social import to America.
Whatever its dubious ties to religion, the chocolate egg is now a staple of Easter and spring, signifying the emergence of new life and potential cavities in young children. The holiday is ritually celebrated with parades, flowered bonnets, and above all, Easter egg hunts.
When my kids were young and easily deceivable, which lasted all of two years, my wife and I planted dotted trails of foil wrapped Hershey eggs outside their bedroom doors leading to brightly colored baskets filled with chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps hollowed comfortably in a nest of green or yellow plastic grass.
Following the tricky candy trails, they squealed with excitement.
As they grew older and wiser I started hiding the baskets in less and less obvious places. In broom closets, in the washing machine, in their clothes hampers—places in the house they had never seen before.
To help them when they grew frustrated I gave them very subtle hints; “if you ever made your bed you might find an Easter surprise.”
Before long, as they became familiar with the far reaches of the house and yard, I ditched the large stocked baskets and just placed tiny eggs that were difficult to spot in the most obscure places I could think of.
I became very devious, but unfortunately never took inventory.
The other day I was changing a light bulb in a chandelier above the dining room table and found a chocolate egg. Slightly melted. I don’t know what year it was from. But it still tasted good.
If we ever move from the house I am sure the new owners will find a few more in the bushes.
As I became more and more creative in hiding eggs, the kids became more and more engaged in finding them. Over the years I manufactured elaborate treasure hunts with plastic eggs opening to clues to yet another hiding spot. I developed Da Vinci code ciphers and puzzles and anagrams for them to solve to move them along their way to some confectionery treasure.
Selfishly I did this so that my wife and I could have a peaceful cup of coffee alone in bed for an hour.
This year my older son is home from college and together with his teenage brother and sister they will no doubt sleep through most of Easter morning.
My wife thinks that since they are all together, we should have another Easter egg hunt.
I have a better idea. “How about maybe we hide. Maybe someplace like Cancun? Maybe they won’t find us.”
But she is serious. She wants me to organize an Easter egg hunt for our kids who are now young adults and can’t even find the alarm clocks next to their beds.
Which brings me back to being a good egg. This year I will drink a Bloody Mary and organize another Easter egg hunt for my kids. Because someday they will fondly think back to Easters past, remember me, and maybe create some equally memorable Easter adventures for their own children.
I won’t have risen to join them, but maybe I can still be a good egg hidden in a box somewhere.