Spring is on the way!!
Easter has always been a big holiday for my dad's family. Every Easter Sunday the table would be filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, green beans, baked beans, deviled eggs, and of course, Granny's delicious potato salad. For dessert my Granny would make bird's nests. These confections consisted of green jello, cool whip, shredded coconut, and jelly beans. She would take great care to arrange all of the ingredients to resemble a bird's nest filled with colored eggs. After dinner (which happened at lunchtime), we would head outside to hunt for dyed hardboiled eggs, typically finding them stuffed in drain pipes, green ones nestled in the tree out front, and sometimes under the porch steps. We weren't exceptionally creative in our hiding spots I suppose...

My favorite part of Easter in Rugby though, was the scavenger hunt the Easter Bunny would provide in lieu of a basket filled with green plastic 'grass', chocolate bunnies, and Jelly Bellys. The first year I remember spending Easter with my dad instead of my mom, I was maybe 5 years old. I woke up to find a note instead of a chocolate bunny, which was all I wanted in the world. It told me that there would be a series of clues that would lead me to an Easter treat. I don't remember all of the notes, however, I do remember one that suggested I search for the next clue in my dad's shoe. (The Easter Bunny is quite adept at rhyming, if you didn't know.) I remember he shooed me away from him, incredulous that anything other than his foot would be occupying his brown boot. But lo! After poking around a bit, there it was, tied with a little red ribbom, tucked into the boot's tongue. I thought, wow that Easter bunny is pretty dang smooth if he managed to slip some paper in my dad's shoe without him noticing...I might not have been the most clever 5 year old in the world, but it was so fun. The search culminated at a crafts fair on White Top Mountain, where my dad was scheduled to play later in the day. Leaning against an amplifier sat a white fabric bunny with exceptionally long ears, dressed in a red and black checked dress. It had my name on it. I don't know if I have ever felt so special, the Easter Bunny left me a present in front of a hundred people! I only recently found out that that first scavenger hunt was the result of my dad having forgot it was Easter and needed to buy some time in order to find a chocolate bunny for me. Little did he know it would spark an Easter tradition.

Me, Shirleen, and Harper on Easter several years ago.
Many years afterwards, the Easter Bunny would write me cryptic notes, sending me over to the spooky barn next door, down to our cobweb-ridden basement, to search in a box full of snake skeletons, over to Granny's cellar. I should have known my dad had something do with it when snakes became involved in the game but I just enjoyed every second of it. I remember one Easter I was sent to the newly renovated attic where, in the farthest corner, sat a huge, sneering, rubber rat wearing a diamond necklace. Every time I put on that necklace, I think about that rat, and what I had to go through to get to it, and mostly how much I love my dad. Even though it began as a means to correct an oversight, the scavenger hunts are something I cherish, and a tradition I plan to continue with my children, if I ever have any that is. Unfortunately, Harper is unable to read, though I do sometimes hide her toys for her to find. She seems to enjoy that game very much.

Last weekend my aunts Shirleen and Pat, my uncle Max, and Pat's sister Lib, who I consider an aunt as well, came to have Easter dinner with me. Several people have decided to come visit my dad for Easter weekend so we figured it would be the only chance we would have to be with just our family. It is amazing how rare those opportunities are these days. Like the random nights in the shop that I have with  just my dad, I cherish family dinners just as much, though they seem to be becoming less and less frequent. I wish very much that my dad had been in town to join us for this past dinner, but to me, it was just the same as family dinners at Granny's house, only Shirleen and Pat made the birds nest desserts, taking just as much care to create them as Granny would have.