Some families have Christmas traditions — the kind of things that are remembered and recounted year after year as part of an annual oral tradition.
My family, for whatever reason, has Easter traditions.
Not religious ones — though religious traditions do hold a place in our Easter memories. I’m sure that years from now, my children will still be talking about how I once made them go to the 4-hour Easter Vigil Mass and how they nearly wasted away from hunger as a result.
I’m talking about the family traditions that have grown up around the annual Easter egg hunt. There’s dying the eggs and trying to come up with the most impressive, artistic, or grotesque decoration. (The winner is still an absurdly realistic eyeball painted while I was a kid. Everyone refused to eat it.)
There’s egg fighting (not what it sounds like) and cracking your hard-boiled egg on someone’s head at Easter breakfast. (Exactly what it sounds like. One year, my sister and I put a raw egg in the basket and someone cracked it on the dog, who was subsequently confused and humiliated by our laughter.)
But my favorite Easter tradition of all is the unfindable Easter egg. That is, the one Easter egg that derails the entire Easter egg hunt because it has been hidden so effectively that it takes forever to find it again.
With the benefit of hindsight, I suspect that the unfindable Easter egg grew out of my parents’ desire to keep us all out in the yard as long as possible on Easter morning so they could drink Bloody Marys in peace.
It worked. Even after we were too old for the Easter egg hunt and only went out to supervise the younger kids, the unfindable egg still kept us on our toes.
One year, it was hidden in the wheel well of a car in the driveway. Once, it was so cleverly painted to look like new grass that you couldn’t tell it was an egg until you were right on top of it. Once, it was perched in a branch about 15 feet up a tree.
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My favorite example comes from when I got to be the one to hide the unfindable egg for my then-tween sister. I used scotch tape to stick it to the underside of the front porch roof. When it got to the “colder/hotter” part of the search, she stood directly underneath it (technically known as the, “you’re boiling, you’re on fire,” point) for a good three minutes before it occurred to her to look up.
So if you’re looking to add a dash of anger and confusion to your Easter egg hunt — along with the very real threat of an unfound egg that slowly begins to stink up your yard — I encourage you to adopt the unfindable Easter egg tradition.
As with all family traditions developed over the course of many years, there are rules that have been established to minimize angry finger-pointing and muttering during Easter breakfast:
- The difficulty of the unfindable egg must be adjusted to match the oldest participating egg hunter. If it’s just toddlers and small children, you can’t get too clever or you’ll never be able to go inside again. If there are teenagers involved, it’s perfectly fine to craft a miniature ghillie suit for your egg and hide it in an adjacent field.
- It has to be possible to retrieve the egg without access to special tools, ladders, cherry pickers, heavy-duty welder’s gloves, etc.
- You can go for camouflage or difficult placement, but not both. Camouflaged eggs need to be easy to get to. Eggs perched in trees, along window ledges, and hidden in rain spouts need to be brightly colored.
- No one gets to come in and eat breakfast until all the eggs (including the unfindable one) are found. Sneaking more candy from your Easter basket, however, is not only expected, but encouraged.
Finally, though technically not a rule, it’s a good idea for the person who hid the unfindable egg to share its location with at least one other adult. Otherwise, you may find yourself standing in the middle of the yard with a Bloody Mary, squinting at bushes and hoping you don’t hit it with the weed wacker just before your Fourth of July party.