After the Fact: Observing holidays


When there are younger brothers or sisters in a family, you get to practice essential parenting skills long before you actually become a parent. My sister Micki and I had barely outgrown Santa Claus when we were staying up late on Christmas Eve to put together the newest version of the metal gas station/car wash/second floor parking garage that greeted Lonny the following morning. I’d swear he thought he was going to get another one as a present when he graduated from high school. He should have been so lucky: those things are worth big bucks now!

Then we came to the next big responsibility shed by parents as soon as replacements could be recruited. Hiding eggs in our back yard was as much a challenge as the Christmas construction and there was always frost on the brown stuff that wasn’t quite yet grass. Some years, depending on the liturgical calendar and weather, we held the egg hunt indoors where one or two hard-boiled eggs unfailingly stayed lost until we moved furniture to put up the next year’s Christmas tree. It wasn’t until my daughter Chris was finally old enough for the egg hunt that Micki and I decided those designated to be the rabbit should hop around the back yard. If they’d had any doubt before, our neighbors probably knew then that everyone in our family had missed the train of rational thought.

It was about that time dad heard about a cake decorating class taught by the ladies in our local LDS Church. He said he’d pay for my continuing education and I thought that was a better deal than the first time he’d whipped out the checkbook to that end. Until I called to see what supplies I’d need, I hadn’t realized they expected us to practice on a freshly-baked cake. Every week. And dad got to keep the cake. Well, it was fun, and I also learned how to make those cute sugar eggs with the panorama inside. The very first year, I started off to make eggs for the kids in our family. That mushroomed into making one for every child in Chris’s kindergarten class. Before the project was complete, I had sugar egg “shells” on every horizontal surface in the house and icing everywhere else. 

Those egg-shaped molds stayed in my kitchen cabinet for maybe 20 years before I finally donated them to some thrift store. They could have advertised them like Town and Country advertises used cars: “Used Once, Slightly Dusty.”

Thinking about it now, I realize I got more out of that cake decorating class than ever I did from sociology. Or music appreciation. Or bowling.

Easter always meant we got a new spring outfit, from shoes to gloves and everything in between. More years than not, we had to wear our winter coat over the new clothes when we went to mass and, some years, snow boots instead of the cute, white sandals.  It makes you wonder who decided that spring should arrive in March when, obviously, the weather never cooperates.

Every small town has a community “egg hunt”. Ours was held on the park across the street from our house. It would have been a real bonus for the younger kids except some big person always redirected their attention while eggs were being hidden. As it turned out, the major bonus was for the flock of ravens who’d wait until the small hoard had trampled through to do their part to clean up the park of mashed eggs and candy. Now, they hide plastic eggs. That must have been a major blow to the egg industry, but the chickens aren’t out protesting in front of City Market.   

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