At the crack of dawn this morning, I am skittishly excited to lay an Easter Egg hunt for Favourite Man (FM). I can hear our neighbour’s children squealing with delight as they get stuck in to their own pre-breakfast chocolate fest. It then hits me that my Easter etiquette – fashioned from my own Easter memories and beliefs – could be dangerously different to FM’s. FM is still in bed and snoring loudly so is clearly untroubled by my dilemma. It also hits me that as this is our first real Easter together (we spent last Easter isolating in our own dwellings) perhaps we should have discussed this in the same way we have navigated through birthdays and Christmas? Last Easter FM only had to listen to me on phone calls during the day; he did not have to see my face smeared with chocolate and hot cross bun crumbs or hear me sing and cry my way through ‘A Sound of Music’ and ‘The Nun’s Story’.
So, I stand in the garden, a chocolate rabbit in my hand, and I know this is a crossroad moment: I can either wolf down the fruits of my Easter egg trail before breakfast – FM will be none the wiser when he wakes up – or I can commit to laying down some new Easter rituals.
I think you can guess my direction of travel.
A more perceptive woman would have taken the hint earlier in the week when FM’s grown up children look at me blankly when I ask if they have plans for Easter (I dismiss their response as Lockdown fatigue; they must have forgotten how the calendar works for they seem oblivious to it even being a Bank Holiday). In hindsight, I may still live to regret drawing Easter characters on all the free-range eggs in the fridge – I find myself slightly on edge all day waiting for someone to open the egg box. In reality FM’s family should feel lucky to still have some eggs to cook with, for my childhood ritual was to blow the eggs and then decorate the shells. We would be eating scrambled eggs and omelettes for weeks before Easter Sunday, but we won all the prizes in the church ‘decorated egg shell competition’. Don’t even start me on making a miniature Easter garden…
FM tells me that his family do not go in for this ‘stuff’. An Easter garden? No. A chick and rabbit-themed table direction? No thanks. Two bars of Toblerone each? Yes, don’t mind if they do (‘You get more chocolate per buck than you do in an egg.’ sic). I am insensed; It surely must be enshrined somewhere in chocolate law that Toblerone is a Christmas confectionary or one best left to Duty Free shopping. FM’s family have a great deal of Easter Etiquette to learn and I am not sure that I can crack a weekend crash course when my own family are not around to demonstrate the whip-smart speed and observations skills involved in a the egg hunt alone. I console myself that FM’s family have at least avoided any mention of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange or even tried to pretend that one of these could pass muster as being ovoid.
As if I am not treading on egg shells already today, I have also reflected on that box of cornflakes I requisitioned from the cupboard earlier in the week. I now wonder if I should have asked permission before combining the contents of this family size box of Kellogg’s with half a ton of milk chocolate. Everyone loves a chocolate cornflake bird nest surely? I stand in the kitchen wondering if I can drop my hidden cake tin of chocolate goodness off next door – the neighbour’s children may appreciate this culinary gesture more than FM’s family. I feel relief that I ran out of time to nail a simnel cake.
I am at an Easter tipping point this year. When I popped to mum’s yesterday to take her for her second jab, I felt that she at least would understand my Easter excitement. I was thrilled to see some small chocolate eggs sitting waiting on the side, but before I could say, ‘oh mum, you shouldn’t have,’ she asked me if I could wrap them up for my great nephew’s visit on Bank Holiday Monday. At least mum proves game for an Easter walk to the church to light a candle for my father and sister. The church looked beautiful in a socially distanced way and right by the hand sanitiser is a bowl of chocolate Easter eggs for visitors . I look at mum over my mask, thinking that she will encourage me to fill my pockets, but instead I hear her say, ‘I know you are too old for chocolate and need to watch your weight, but can you take a handful of eggs for a little hunt I am planning for your nieces later in the week?’ On the walk back from the church I am pacified to discover that mum’s village take Easter very seriously indeed; I dissolve my sulk by admiring the Easter egg door wreaths and chic window displays – sorry, chick-themed window displays. Some public spirited Easter Rabbit has festooned the whole village with crocheted daffodils and rabbits to coax us out of Lockdown. I bless them and their pastel shades of knitting wool.
Standing in the garden this morning, I decide there can be no turning back. If I rein in my Spring-tide giddiness I will dilute all the happy memories I have of Easter egg hunts with my sisters and then my own children. I know we may have stolen some Easter ideas from America, but you are never too old for an egg hunt – as evidenced by the body slam and headlock involved between my adult son and daughter when I last hid chocolate eggs for them two years ago.
FM is both late to this Easter party and late in getting out of bed, but he eventually clocks on to his Easter card and then the arrows which direct him out to the garden. I think he is delighted, although his excitement is restrained within the statement, ‘how many of these flipping eggs did you hide? It’s so hot today and there will be a melting mess if we don’t find these quickly – you have not really thought this through, especially with all that washing on the line.’ Slowly he starts locating eggs and remarks, ‘how many blooming eggs do you think one man can eat? I have got a Toblerone in the fridge and I start boot camp next week’. He is a hard shell to crack FM, but with practice we will get him there. I decide not to introduce the rabbit ears and Easter bonnet I have made for this inaugural hunt.
When I go to hang out the washing later, I spot a rash of melting chocolate eggs that have escaped FM’s detection (novice). I decide that now is not the time to give FM some egg hunt hacks for future years. I see the chocolate smeared face of my neighbour’s youngest child smiling at me through the hedge and I surreptitiously pass the Easter contraband into her safe hands. I am covered in chocolate but clean myself up on FM’s white sheets that are drying in the sun. Who says I can’t crack Easter?