For most people, the Easter egg hunt conjures images of children scrambling to find colored plastic eggs like the ones pictured above, filled with tiny sweets (M&Ms, etc) or prizes. But in my family, things were done a little bit…differently. (If you haven’t figured this out by now, I don’t know where you’ve been.) My grandmother worked at the candy counter of a neighborhood store called the Stratford Town Fair, and got her hands on dozens of candy eggs; these were about half as small as real eggs, seemed to be made of solid sugar, and were old and hard as rocks by the time my cousins, my sister, and I were introduced to them. My grandfather had penciled a little number on each one (rendering them officially inedible) that coordinated with a list he’d make each year of all the hiding places around their house. He was really, really good at hiding them. And these eggs were not very big and not brightly-colored, which made them really, really hard to find.
I don’t remember a single Easter where we managed to find them all on our own. Invariably, my grandfather would cross off all the eggs we did find, and would then walk around the house, consulting his list, stopping here and there and giving us little hints. “You’re getting hot,” he’s say. Or “Cold, cold, cold as ice!” Finding those last few inscrutable eggs was a particular challenge and delight.
Unlike most Easter egg hunts, my family’s did not award prizes to whomever found the most eggs. In fact, I never really thought about the prizelessness of it all, until now. The endeavor of looking for those petrified candy eggs and even managing to find them was exhilarating enough. And that leads me to wonder: do you think most kids today (and their parents) would be satisfied with an Easter egg hunt without a material reward?