Have you ever watched a children's Easter egg hunt? Over the years, I've read several one-column write-ups in local newspapers describing these events, and each article is filled with pastel adjectives and sugar-laced plots that highlights the story of one toddler (always age two) who plucks eggs with childlike wonder while parents (armed with a camera) look on proudly.
Sweet, but that's not the whole story behind Easter egg hunts. I know, because we just held a massive one.
It started weeks ago when my husband came home from church with a trough that was filled with empty plastic eggs. He placed it in the center of our family room, where it would stand as a physical monument to the monumental task of stuffing obnoxious quantities of eggs with obnoxious quantities of candy.
As we started filling the eggs, I learned several important lessons. For example, some candy will never fit inside the cozy confines of a plastic egg even though the packaging is prominently labeled with misleading phrases like "egg-stuffers." Also, you might break certain child labor laws by unceremoniously employing your children to stuff eggs every time they near the room . Finally, for every nine pieces of candy you'll stuff, you'll eat one.
Once the eggs are stuffed and sealed with a piece of painter's tape so they don't accidentally crack open when you scatter them across the field (last year's lesson), you host the actual event. For us, the egg hunt was a portion of our children's church service this morning.
Just like the articles I've read, the children were adorable -- so, so adorable! -- and the sun shined, and the wind blew, and the eggs glittered in the field as good Easter eggs should.
But no newspaper article really captures the essence of a children's Easter egg hunt because they never admit how, in two minutes flat, an entire field is picked clean. (The phrase "swarm of locusts" comes to mind, but perhaps that's not acceptable to print.)
You see, there's a certain Hunger-Games-like intensity among some older children who seem willing to trample that distracted toddler who simply cannot see the one egg that's directly in front of his foot, even though you're on the sidelines pointing, encouraging, and, as a final measure, sending adult-to-toddler mental telepathy: "It's right there, right in front of you. See it? It's a bright yellow plastic egg! It's so close that you're practically stepping on it! HOW DO YOU NOT SEE THIS?"
But by this point the hunt is finished, and the kids already surreptitiously have eaten a handful of treats. As you gaze into their sweet eyes, glazed with the combination of competition and sugar, you remember why you're doing this in the first place, why you're holding an event where families gather on this holy day.
You smile broadly and say, "Come on, little peeps, it's all about Jesus. He's alive! We're celebrating resurrection!"
And they're like, "Did you say Peeps?"